Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Dr. Donald J. Dessart

Committee Members

Dr. John B. Conway, Dr. Edward L. Counts, Jr., Dr. John R. Ray


With the availability of the internet, many web-based tutorials, and related materials and computer based tutorials, students continue to fail and/or do poorly in calculus classes. On average about fifty percent of students receive a grade of D, F, or W (withdraw) in first semester calculus at the university level. To meet the needs of all students, regardless of learning style, attitude towards mathematics, or ability level, teachers should utilize modern technology, such as computers or graphing calculators. These tools are able to serve the needs of the students in ways that other tools have not been able to accomplish.

The primary purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between learning style preferences, personality temperament types, and mathematics self-efficacy on the achievement and course completion rate of a sample of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville college students enrolled in first and second semester calculus classes which utilized web-based materials. The following research questions were explored.

1. How does student achievement vary with learning style preferences? 2. How does student achievement vary with temperaments? 3. How does student achievement vary with mathematics self-efficacy? 4. How does student achievement vary with teaching method?

To achieve the purpose of this study, five instruments were used to collect data from students enrolled in a lecture/recitation and a web-based first semester calculus class and a lecture/recitation and a web-based second semester calculus class for a total of four classes.

The data collected included ACT mathematics scores, Myers-Briggs personality types, mathematics self-efficacy scores, and calculus test scores. Findings were significant for several dimensions of learning style and temperament with respect to both the calculus test and the Mathematics Self-Efficacy instruments. Students who were categorized as reflective learners on the Felder-Silverman Index of Learning Styles scored significantly higher on the calculus test and those students who were categorized as SPs on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator scored significantly lower on the calculus test and the Mathematics Self-Efficacy Scale (MSES). Additionally, with one exception, the students who enrolled in the second semester calculus classes were visual rather than verbal learners. The female students declined in enrollment by fifteen percent between the first and second semester of calculus. The expectation was that the web-based tutorials would be an effective means of meeting the needs of the large percentage of visual learners; however the quantitative data were insufficient to test this hypothesis. The survey data indicated that the majority of the visual learners attributed the website as the "aspect that contributed most to their learning."

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