Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Vena M. Long

Committee Members

P. Mark Taylor, Kristen T. Rearden, Charles R. Collins


This qualitative study explores mathematics education from the perspective of community college students who are recent graduates of a rural high school. The research questions relate to the students’ perception of their understanding of rural, their rural high school experience, the factors that contributed to their preparedness or lack of preparedness for college-level mathematics, and the effect that their rural education had on their preparation for college. Students enrolled in a mathematics course at a suburban community college in East Tennessee were asked to complete a survey after midterm of fall semester 2005. Information about the location of their high school, age, and whether they consider themselves rural were used to screen students for an interview. Students were purposefully selected who graduated from one of eight rural high schools located in counties with an economic status of transitional or at-risk, were between the ages of 18 and 24, and responded to an email sent to set-up a time for an interview. Eighteen students were interviewed after midterm fall semester 2005 with follow-up interviews with seven students the following spring semester. Findings include the following: students from at-risk counties equate rural with isolated, country, and poor; students who graduated from rural high schools in transitional counties do not see rural as a major factor in their education compared to students from at-risk counties; and students from schools in at-risk counties are negative about their high school mathematics experience. Factors stated by these students overwhelmingly fault the teacher’s ability to explain the math, teacher favoritism toward certain students, unconcerned attitude of teacher, and the low expectations of teachers and the school administration.

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