Anticipated Date of Graduation

Summer 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences


Mathematical Sciences

First Advisor

Douglas Darbro


The Covid-19 pandemic significantly disrupted past norms in higher education. The immediate impact was felt worldwide, as an abrupt shift to remote learning made colleges more invested in online courses than ever before. Although not as evident, another significant change in higher education included a shift away from the use of traditional cognitive predictors (SAT and ACT scores) by colleges and universities, to admit prospective applicants. These trends escalate the need for faculty and administrators to identify non-cognitive predictors of achievement in online college courses, particularly in core subjects like mathematics. This study examined whether grit and participation are predictive of success in an online college mathematics course. Using scores from the Grit-S questionnaire and class participation, logistic regression analyses, a discriminant function analysis, and correlation analyses were carried out to identify statistically significant predictors of student success in online Intermediate Algebra courses at a community college in California. The online, synchronous mathematics courses were taught during the spring 2022 semester using Canvas, the college Learning Management System. Scores on the Grit-S questionnaire (a self-report ordinal 5-point survey with a total of 8 items), class participation (total activity time within Canvas), along with other factors (prior knowledge and age), were analyzed to identify the most influential predictors of success. The results suggest that class participation, one of the two components of grit (perseverance of effort), and prior knowledge are statistically significant predictors of success in an online college mathematics course. The identification of two non-cognitive, dispositional predictors of achievement (participation and grit) can aid college administrators and admissions professionals in reassessing the criteria used for admissions, while college faculty may concurrently develop and foster these traits in their iv courses. These findings may help colleges and universities draw diverse and highly qualified students, while simultaneously helping develop those currently enrolled into successful graduates.

Included in

Mathematics Commons