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Ap Classes And Their Impact On Engineering Education

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.207.1 - 7.207.8



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Michael Robinson

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1 Session #2002-195

AP Classes and Their Impact on Engineering Education Mike Robinson, M. S. Fadali, George Ochs

University of Nevada/University of Nevada/Washoe County School District


Many US schools offer students the opportunity to take college level classes in mathematics and science. Studies have shown that students who take these classes are more likely to succeed in college. Other studies have shown that failure in engineering education is strongly correlated to deficiencies in mathematics and science. This paper surveys the history of Advanced Placement (AP) classes and their impact on college education in general and engineering and science education in particular. We also survey AP class offerings in a large Western county school district where a major state university is located. We estimate the number of AP classes offered in mathematics and science, and the percentage of students opting to take these classes. Our results confirm that students who take AP classes are likely to select a major in engineering, science or mathematics. Fifty per cent of students who took AP Physics said they would seek a college major in engineering. Based on the results of the school district surveyed in this study, size, location and socio economic class all affect the number of AP classes offered in high schools.

I. Introduction

A problem with many high schools is that challenging courses are not offered, especially in mathematics and the sciences. In its final report of 2001, The National Commission on the High School Senior Year urged states to offer challenging alternatives to the traditional high school senior year. The report said that not enough high schools are preparing students for college and careers and that while 70 percent of today’s high school graduates go on to some form of postsecondary education, only one-half of those who enroll at four- year institutions leave with a degree. The main reason cited was that they were not prepared for the rigors of college academics in high school. It proposed that the college- preparatory track be the learning track for all, not just the privilege of a few 1.

This proposal is certainly not new. The Committee of Ten 2 as far back as 1893 tried to promote uniform college entrance requirements by aligning high school subjects and content with what would be taught in college. After Sputnik I in 1957, U.S. News and

1 Partial support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education through grant DUE #1970638.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ã 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Robinson, M. (2002, June), Ap Classes And Their Impact On Engineering Education Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10622

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2002 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015