Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Michael Steele

Committee Members

Bo Zhang, Kevin McLeod, DeAnn Huinker


Co-requisite Model, Design Experiement, Developmental Education, Developmental Mathematics


The purpose of this study was to develop a holistic course that meets the needs of students referred to multiple developmental mathematics courses. The study aimed to determine if the holistic design contributed to an increase in conceptual understanding of fractions, integers, and their operations. Additionally, the study analyzed the pass rates from the course design and compared these pass rates to historic versions of the course and current gateway courses. Last, the student’s perceptions of the course were analyzed to determine their perceptions of the design features of the course. The study took place at a large midwestern urban university. This university is virtually an open access university. The students come from diverse backgrounds and were referred to multiple levels of developmental mathematics by a placement exam or their ACT Math score. The course discusses material from basic math through beginning algebra. The study was done using a design-experiment based on four design principles. First, create an equitable environment for all students. Second, provide learning activities that promote a conceptual understanding of mathematics. Third, provide growth mindset and study skills instruction. Fourth, develop a grading system that emphasizes student learning. The results of the study indicate that the course contributed to an increase in conceptual understanding of fractions, integers and their operations on all learning outcomes that were assessed. Many of the learning outcomes increased to show proficiency. Additionally, the pass rate for the course was 80% and there was no statistically significant difference in pass rate based on a student’s race. Furthermore, students that continued to their gateway mathematics course passed that course at the same rate or better than students that started in the gateway course. Last, students perceived that the design features that were most beneficial to their learning were the ones that directly applied to their math instruction. This course provides a holistic approach towards developmental mathematics instruction that addresses the needs of students when they walk in the door. Students are given the tools they need to be successful in this course and any other math courses they need to take.