Effects of a Mathematics acceleration course on achievement and continued Mathematics study

Author: Rachel Neil

Neil, Rachel, 2022 Effects of a Mathematics acceleration course on achievement and continued Mathematics study, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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The purpose of this mixed methods research was to investigate the achievement outcomes, future enrolment in higher-level Mathematics courses, and program experiences of 13 students involved in a secondary Mathematics acceleration course. Differences in academic results (investigated using a Mann-Whitney U test) and enrolment choices (using proportions and confidence intervals) of accelerated students compared to equally high-achieving students who did not enroll in the acceleration course were analysed. Participants’ experiences of Mathematics study were explored through a focus group interview (of accelerated students) and qualitative survey (of non-accelerated students), findings from which helped explain the quantitative results. Findings indicated no statistically significant group differences in achievement outcomes or prevalence of enrolment in high-level Mathematics courses, suggesting that students are not advantaged or disadvantaged by accelerating in relation to academic achievement. Course enrolment data has practical significance due to the high percentage differences in enrolment, indicating further investigation would be appropriate. Students’ program experiences were generally negative, most participants indicating they felt they were not adequately supported in the program. Overall, the majority of participants felt that they were left alone to work through the program independently and that teachers were not able to provide them with regular support in the classroom environment. Most were appreciative of the opportunity to accelerate and the extra options at Year 12 that this provided, but were concerned that the program needed adjustment to meet the needs of the students. The findings are discussed relative to previous research on acceleration and implications for the design and implementation of acceleration programs.

Keywords: mixed methods, academic acceleration, Mathematics, student experiences, academically gifted

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2022
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Jane Jarvis