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First-Year Math and Physics Courses and their Role in Predicting Academic Success in Subsequent Courses

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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

First-Year Programs (FPD) Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.605.1 - 23.605.12



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Paper Authors


James J. Pembridge Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., Daytona Beach

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James J. Pembridge is an assistant professor in the Freshman Engineering Department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He earned a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, M.A. Education in Curriculum and Instruction, and Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. His research has focused on mentoring as pedagogy for project-based courses and understanding the adult learning characteristics of undergraduate students.

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Matthew A Verleger Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., Daytona Beach

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Dr. Matthew Verleger is assistant professor in Freshman Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He has a B.S. in Computer Engineering, an M.S. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education—all from Purdue University. Prior to joining the Embry-Riddle faculty, he spent 2 years as an assistant professor of Engineering Education at Utah State University. His research interests include Model-Eliciting Activities, online learning, and the development of software tools to facilitate student learning.

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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.

Pembridge, J. J., & Verleger, M. A. (2013, June), First-Year Math and Physics Courses and their Role in Predicting Academic Success in Subsequent Courses Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19619

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