The fact college students often struggle in mathematics is not new. They exhibit a great deal of anxiety, dislike, and overall disinterest. Quantitative data displaying abysmal student success rates are widely available and shared.

This book explores the complexity surrounding the issue of student difficulties in community college math. Though much quantitative research focuses on the faculty experiences and perspectives regarding methods and practices, the author puts the focus on students’ experiences.

The book presents the results of a study focused on students who struggled in mathematics. Though their experiences varied, they all entered community college with a great deal of disgust and anxiety toward mathematics courses and requirements. These impressions and attitudes create barriers to success. However, all the students eventually succeeded in fulfilling their college-level mathematics requirement.

The author presents these students’ experiences prior to entering community college, what led to both success and failure in their math courses, and the common themes leading to success and failure. Through these student responses, the author assists readers in gaining a better understanding of the community college student who struggles in math and how to break students’ community college math barriers to success.



1. Math is a Four-Letter Word

2. The Framework for Developmental and Introductory College-Level Math

3.The Study, Settings, and the Participants

4. Prior Experiences in Math

5. Attempting Math and Community College

6. Navigating the First Developmental Math Course

7. Math Pathways and Completing Developmental Math

8. The End of the Rainbow

9 I Need More Math…Now What?

10. Lessons Learned in the Aftermath

Appendix A: Analyzing the Results and Ensuring Accuracy

Appendix B: Pre-Algebra and Introduction to Algebra Course Content

Appendix C: Stand-Alone Quantway 1 and Statway 1 Course Content

Appendix D: Elementary Algebra (all half semester) Content

Appendix E: Intermediate Algebra Content

Appendix F: Lead Questions for Student Participants

Appendix G: Lead Questions for the Lester Community College Faculty



With 21 years of experience in mathematics education and 17 years as a community college math professor, the author has instructed courses from developmental math through calculus. He has served as Chair of the Developmental Math Department and Assistant Chair of the Mathematics Department at Sinclair College, Dayton, Ohio. He received the Jon and Suanne Roueche Award for Teaching Excellence and the Ohio Magazine Excellence in Education Award. His published research focuses on faculty viewpoints regarding pedagogical practices as well as conceptual research concentrating on developmental math. His article, "Acceleration and Compression in Developmental Math: Faculty Viewpoints," was awarded Article of the Year by the Journal of Developmental Education.