Date of Award

Spring 3-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Lynda Leavitt

Second Advisor

Dr. William Emrick

Third Advisor

Dr. Mark Daniel Ward


While there are numerous studies examining the courses students take at the secondary level and how different levels of mathematics courses can affect student achievement in beginning post-secondary mathematics courses, there are no studies that examine math majors at the post-secondary level of education. In addition, many reports stating gender and ethnicity gaps in the field of mathematics fail to discuss the issue surrounding what type of student pursues a mathematics degree. Understanding mathematics majors, including the types of high schools they attended and their ethnicities, may provide some insight into which students are becoming interested in the area of mathematics during their high school experience. This study will explain the predictors that correlate to a student’s choice of majoring in mathematics at the postsecondary level of education as well as provide readers with information regarding how predictors, such as the type of high school and a student’s background, can affect his or her decision to major in the area of mathematics. Using the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 and Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 data sets, frequency analysis determined various significant differences when addressing the possibility of differences in the proportion of students pursuing the area of mathematics when compared by the high school sector they attended and when further disaggregated according to their genders and ethnicities. A logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine the value of significant independent variables as meaningful predictors of the likelihood of a student pursuing mathematics. While a greater proportion of non-public high school students chose to major in mathematics than public sector students, according to the NELS: 88 data set, there was no difference found between the public and private sectors in the ELS: 2002 data set. Similarly, according to the NELS: 88 data set, when compared to public sector males, a greater proportion of non-public high school males majored in mathematics, while no significant differences existed between females of the various school sectors. However, within the ELS: 2002 data set the opposite results occurred, indicating a significant difference in public and private sector females majoring in mathematics but no difference between the various sector males.


Copyright 2011