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Addressing Math Readiness for Engineering and Other STEM Programs

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Mathematics Division Technical Session 3: Diversity in Mathematics Education

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Paper Authors


Kathleen Marie Fick Methodist University

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Kathleen Fick is a Professor of Mathematics and her current research focuses on mathematics education and undergraduate curriculum, specifically the areas of 1) future educators’ mathematical understanding and preparation; 2) teachers’ mathematical content knowledge, understanding, and training; 3) the development of children’s algebraic and geometric understanding; 4) procedural versus conceptual error analysis; and 5) the use and understanding of manipulatives. Dr. Fick has been involved in numerous grants and curriculum initiatives to increase mathematical content knowledge within the K-16 arena, in regard to both student and teacher content knowledge and understanding.

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Denise H. Bauer Methodist University

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Dr. Denise H. Bauer is an Associate Professor, Chair, and founding Director of the Department of Engineering at Methodist University. Dr. Bauer has worked on several initiatives to increase enrollment and retention of underrepresented groups including development of first-year engineering courses for students under-prepared for college-level math. Her main research area is Human Factors and Ergonomics, which she uses to help design classroom environments considering both student and instructor needs.

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XXXX University began an Engineering Program in #### with no changes in the required mathematics sequence. As at other universities, if an engineering student (or any STEM student) is not prepared to start in Calculus their first semester, he/she must begin in the appropriate lower mathematics course according to their ACT or SAT score. Furthermore, as a small, private institution, XXXX University has limited offerings of each mathematics and engineering courses each year. This limitation on course offerings means that the mathematics sequence (each Calculus course is offered once a year) may delay an engineering student one or even two years depending on which mathematics course he/she takes during his/her first fall semester. This was particularly an issue for students that were placing into College Algebra in the first semester based on the ACT or SAT scores. These students are able to move on to PreCalculus I in the spring semester, but then must either take PreCalculus II in the summer or wait an entire year (the following spring) since PreCalculus II is currently only offered in the spring semester at XXXX University. This sequencing has the potential to delay an engineering student one year in starting engineering courses and two years for graduation. In order to help alleviate this delay for eligible students, faculty members from both engineering and mathematics worked on a solution. During ####, we found that our math sequence required some curriculum modifications in order to better support our growing Engineering Program. To meet the needs of incoming students, we created an Integrated PreCalculus I course in conjunction with a new placement grid that incorporates both ACT/SAT scores and the high school GPA for placement into the first semester mathematics course. This integrated course combines the College Algebra and PreCalculus I courses so that students are on track for PreCalculus II in the spring semester. Students are then ready for Calculus the following fall without the need for a summer course or delaying their studies unnecessarily. The course was offered as a pilot program in #### and has now been offered for # consecutive years. Only students in the STEM majors of engineering, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics as well as kinesiology are currently allowed to take the course as they all require some sequence of mathematics that involves courses that are only offered once a year. We are still evaluating the course through student success in subsequent mathematics course, retention in the major or at the university, and time to complete the mathematics sequence. We are conducting the analysis by tracking each student in the new Integrated PreCalculus I course as well as the traditional mathematics sequence. The results will help further evaluate the placement grid and approach to course topics as well as what it means for recruitment and retention of non-math-ready STEM students (especially engineering). We will also assess how it will help other institutions or high schools develop a curriculum without the need for multiple remedial courses.

Fick, K. M., & Bauer, D. H. (2020, June), Addressing Math Readiness for Engineering and Other STEM Programs Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34095

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