Math Requirement Fulfillment and Educational Success of Community College Students: A Matter of When

Xueli Wang*, Yan Wang, Kelly Wickersham, Ning Sun, Hsun Yu Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: In community colleges, achieving competence in math is critical to students’ timely progression through coursework and eventual educational success; yet, it remains unclear when the optimal timing to complete required math courses is in order to maximize the chance of completing a credential on time. This study examines the timing of college-level math requirement fulfillment in relation to the longer term success of community college students. Method: Utilizing survey data and transcript records of 320 students from an urban community college, we performed a survival analysis to investigate how the precise academic terms in which students complete math requirements, taking into account other student behaviors, are related to credential completion. Results: Findings reveal that completing math requirements at earlier (e.g., first semester) or later (e.g., fourth or fifth semester) stages of college is related to a higher rate of credential completion. Students who engage in active learning, find academics challenging, and feel academically supported have a higher probability of completing a credential, whereas student-faculty interactions are negatively related to credential completion. Contributions: Our findings reveal that fulfilling college-level math requirements early on promises higher odds of credential completion. However, this momentum can be achieved by completing math requirements in Term 1, or it can also be delayed until Terms 4 or 5. It is thus imperative to find ways to more accurately assist community colleges and their students in planning the educational pathways, programs, and services that prevent students from stumbling over necessary math requirements and maximize overall success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-118
Number of pages20
JournalCommunity College Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 1
Externally publishedYes


  • community college
  • course-taking
  • curriculum review
  • math requirement
  • transcript analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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