June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
NSF Grantees Poster Session
To combat math underperformance among incoming STEM majors, Rice University designed a summer bridge program with National Science Foundation (NSF) S-STEM funding that included an intensive calculus course. Students invited to participate in the program were identified as being underprepared for STEM classes based on their standardized test scores, high school STEM coursework, and socioeconomic status. One of the program’s goals is to improve students’ preparation for the advanced math courses required for all STEM majors at Rice. The bridge program is designed to teach the material that has historically been most challenging for underprepared students, meaning the math content covered primarily second-semester calculus topics.
We explored the impact of bridge program participation on math performance in first and second-semester math. First, we examined group differences in math preparation. Though program administrators attempt to create equivalent bridge and comparison groups, the bridge program is optional, meaning group assignment is not completely random. Bridge students were less prepared than comparison students on number of high school calculus AP (or equivalent) credits received. We analyzed group differences in final class grades from 2012-2017 among the comparison group, the bridge group, and the rest of the class (i.e. non-comparison and non-bridge), standardizing grades using Z-scores. Planned contrasts found that bridge students performed slightly better than, but not significantly different from, comparison students in first-semester math. Conversely, planned contrasts found that the bridge group significantly outperformed the comparison group in second-semester math.
These results suggest that bridge program exposure to calculus may improve performance relative to a comparison group, which is especially noteworthy because bridge students are the least math-prepared STEM students entering the university. Future research will analyze outcomes in more advanced math classes. We will use these findings to refine the bridge program’s approach to teaching students how to succeed at collegiate-level math classes and, ultimately, as STEM majors at Rice.
Bradford, B., & Beier, M. E., & Wolf, M., & McSpedon, M., & Taylor, M. (2019, June), Board 20: STEM Bridge Program Participation Predicts First- and Second-Semester Math Performance Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32296
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