School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Laura E. Jones





The purpose of this hermeneutical phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of college algebra among English majors at Thomas University. Experiences were defined as the interactions that have occurred between an individual and other objects and people. The theories guiding this study were Bandura’s social cognitive theory and Atkinson’s expectancy-value theory as they helped to explain why English majors may not have had positive experiences in mathematics. This was a hermeneutical phenomenological study utilizing purposeful convenience sampling of students at Thomas University in the southeastern United States. Data was collected from students majoring in English that had taken college algebra using interviews, journal prompts, and focus groups in order to answer the central research question, “What are the experiences of college students majoring in English in their required college algebra course?” The data was analyzed, looking for significant statements, and then those statements were developed using van Mannen’s thematic analysis method. What the participants had experienced was compared, as well as how they had experienced it. The study determined if college students majoring in English have had positive or negative experiences in their college algebra classes. Three themes that emerged included poor experiences in college algebra, where students felt that they were “just checking boxes,” a desire for a different option than college algebra as a mathematics requirement, and a feeling that there was nothing for them in their college algebra. The main takeaway from this study is that students at Thomas University would like to have an option for a mathematics course that includes more practical concepts and that ties mathematics and English together.

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