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A Study of the Effects of Early Remediation in Prerequisite Material in a Calculus I Course

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Mathematics Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.112.1 - 23.112.9

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Paper Authors


Jennifer Vandenbussche Southern Polytechnic State University

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Jennifer Vandenbussche is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Southern Polytechnic State University. In addition to her research in the scholarship of teaching and learning, she does mathematics research in in the area of combinatorics, especially extremal graph theory. Her primary interest lies in coloring and matching problems in graphs.

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A Study of the Effects of Early Remediation in Prerequisite Material in a Calculus 1 Course Success in Calculus 1 is almost impossible without strong algebra and trigonometry skills.However, many students arrive in Calculus 1 either weak or rusty in these areas. Furthermore,it is difficult for the students to improve their algebra and trigonometric skills over the courseof the semester while trying to apply them to the new calculus concepts. With Calculus 1being such an important gateway course into engineering fields, finding ways to address thisproblem seems essential to recruiting and retaining engineering students. In this paper, we describe an approach to early remediation in prerequisite material ina Calculus 1 course at a polytechnic institution. The instructor spent the first three daysof class reviewing the algebra and precalculus skills most essential to success in Calculus 1.Students were given an exam on the material during the second week of class. Following theexam, all students were given an opportunity to retake a new version of the exam, providedthey met various remediation criteria (completing exam corrections, attending office hours,completing additional review problems) determined by their score on the first attempt. We present preliminary results regarding the success of this approach, including im-provement seen between the two exam attempts, a comparison of course grades to an earliersemester in which this remediation was not used, and student and instructor feedback. 1

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