Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mathematics


Applied Mathematics



First Advisor

Michael D. Barrus


Introductory college math courses have proven to be a significant barrier to degree completion for students in STEM. In particular, research shows women are more likely to leave STEM fields after failing a math course than their male peers. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic beginning in March of 2020, most students and instructors across the globe were forced to learn and teach in an online format. Many of these students and instructors were dissatisfied with their online experience, while others began to realize the opportunities that online learning has to offer, especially for some marginalized populations. This phenomenological dissertation investigates the gender-specific experiences of undergraduate women students in STEM taking math courses online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

For this study, 9 undergraduate women students in STEM were interviewed about their experiences taking math courses online during a pandemic. Qualitative analysis of this data revealed four themes that define the experience: (1) communication, (2) instructor choices, (3) relationship with math and (4) productivity. The Findings chapter of this dissertation vividly describes the participants’ desire for communication from others, a tethering to choices made by instructors, intrusions from the relationships formed with mathematics, and the maintenance of productivity. The Conclusion chapter provides recommendations for math instructors who wish to create an equitable online learning experience for their students based on the experiences of the research participants.

Available for download on Friday, May 17, 2024