Date of Award


Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Robert Franzosa

Second Committee Member

Tod Shockey

Third Committee Member

Eric Pandiscio


In this study I investigate the effectiveness of three modes of instruction of College Algebra in preparing students for Pre-Calculus at the University of Maine. This course is currently taught in a traditional lecture format, a combined format that utilizes computer software for the majority of the course, and an entirely online format. A total of 345 students from all three College Algebra formats were administered a pretest and a post-test based on the Mathematics Placement Exam, the exam used by the University of Maine to place students in math courses of the appropriate level. Along with this test of procedural readiness for Pre-Calculus, 46 students from the combined format of College Algebra were interviewed to probe for conceptual understanding. The major result of this study is that students in all formats show an increase in the procedural knowledge necessary to move on to Pre-Calculus. Some significant differences appeared, most notably in the online format. Students in the online group scored significantly higher on the pretests and post-tests, suggesting that they were more prepared for the course. The interviews suggested that students in the combined format did not gain significant conceptual knowledge from the course. Other results and implications for future research are discussed.