June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
23.605.1 - 23.605.12
First-Year Math and Physics Courses and their Role in Predicting GraduationThe purpose of this paper is to explore the role that first-year math and physics courses have onstudent success in an engineering program at a small private school in the southern region of theUnited States. Literature has identified math and physics aptitude as a predictor of academicsuccess in college. Within these studies math and physics aptitude was represented by ACT andSAT math scores along with math and physics enrollment. Additional literature has indicatedthat there is the potential for cognitive overload through students taking too many courses intheir first year; however the corequisite requirement provides an opportunity for the transfer ofmath knowledge to a different context.This paper builds on the previous literature, primarily study at large institutions, by exploring therole that the first-year math and physics courses play in the persistence and success ofundergraduate engineering students in the context of a small private university. The studyaddresses two primary research questions: 1) How are corequisite & prerequisite requirementsrelated to grades in first-year physics and math courses? and 2) How are first-year math andphysics courses related to academic persistence and success?This paper presents findings from analyses that include logistic regressions and groupcomparisons on institutional data from engineering students enrolled at a small private institutionin the southern region of the United States from 2001 to 2010. The data included graduate/attritestatus, demographics (sex, citizenship, IFS), high school success (GPA, SAT math, ACT math),and college grades in the math and physics courses The findings indicate that there are nosignificant difference in course grades between students that took the course as a pre-requisite ora corequisite, however students that had lower course loads were more likely to graduate.Additionally, physics II course grades appear to be a predictor of persistence in engineering andthe preceding physics course and corequisite math. The findings provide information that can beused by other institutions of similar size to examine the structure of their first year courses inengineering, initiate university policies, and develop interventions to support math and physicssuccess.
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