Proficiency with algebra is difficult for students, even students at the college level. The authors administered an assessment of algebra to 362 college students. Students also completed measures of rational numbers, mathematics fact fluency, mathematics anxiety, reading fluency, and spelling accuracy. A dominance analysis revealed that of the five variables, rational numbers performance dominated, accounting for more than 33% of the variance in algebra performance. As colleges look to restructure developmental mathematics sequences and as elementary and secondary schools seek to better prepare students for meeting college and career benchmarks of algebraic proficiency, results indicate that instruction related to rational numbers is essential across grade levels for students to develop a deep understanding of algebra.
Powell, S. R., Fuchs, L. S., & Gilbert, J. K. (2019). Variables influencing algebra performance: Understanding rational numbers is essential. Learning and Individual Differences, 74, 101758. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2019.101758