Bonnie NovakFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Jennifer L. Courduff


Avoidance, College, Higher Education, Mathematics, Perception, Retention


Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Higher Education | Other Education


The purpose of this instrumental case study was to describe math perception and avoidance for ministerial undergraduate students at a small, private Bible college in upstate New York. In the research, math avoidance was generally defined as the participants’ perception of math, their delay in completing a credit-bearing math course until their senior year or not at all, and their own learning or degree completion as a result. The theories guiding this study were Tinto’s Retention Theory/Model of Institutional Departure, Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory, and Estep’s Theory of Christian Formation. The central question was: How does math avoidance influence persistence toward degree completion for ministerial students at New York Bible College? Research questions were as follows: (1) How does math remediation influence students’ math perception? (2) How does math perception influence students’ math avoidance? (3) How are students influenced in math avoidance by faculty, administration, or other revered individuals? Data was gathered from 16 participants through interviews, a focus group, a follow-up written interview, and a reflective journal entry. Data indicated that participants experienced discouragement, a sense of dread, a history of aversion to math at the site, a struggle to understand math, feelings of inadequacy and frustration, and ineffective methods of teachers, all of which led to delay in taking math and questioning of the college’s decision to require math as well as relevance of math to career, ministry, and life. Findings also indicated that faculty, tutors, parents, and peers can influence students either positively or negatively to overcome math avoidance, with faculty being the most influential.