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Math Literacy And Proficiency In Engineering Students

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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

Integrating Math and Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.839.1 - 7.839.9



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Paper Authors

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Bogdan Adamczyk

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Wendy Reffeor

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Session 2465

Math Literacy and Proficiency in Engineering Students Bogdan Adamczyk, Assistant Professor Wendy Reffeor, Assistant Professor Hugh Jack, Associate Professor Padnos School of Engineering Grand Valley State University Grand Rapids, MI


After years of anecdotal evidence of math deficiencies in engineering students a study was conducted to assess the math proficiency of sophomore and junior students at GrandValley State University (GVSU). The study confirmed some of the expected outcomes and revealed some unexpected surprises. The analysis of the test scores is presented correlating the scores with the previous math classes and ACT math scores. The results of the math assessment prompted the development at GVSU of short and long term strategies to remedy the problems. These strategies and their impact are discussed in detail.


Grand Valley State University (GVSU) offers ABET accredited programs in Mechanical, Elec- trical, Computer and Manufacturing Engineering. The program includes a secondary admission process to permit entry into the fifth semester and mandatory co-operative education employment. Any student who has been admitted to the university is permitted to take courses in the first four semesters of the program, providing he/she has the appropriate prerequisites. The student popula- tion is a combination of transfers from other schools, and first time university students.

Students who transfer to GVSU often bring a majority of the required mathematics credits with them. First time students entering engineering are given placement tests to help select their first mathematics course. The placement test, developed by the Mathematical Association of America, is provided by the Math Department, but is administered and graded by the engineering faculty during freshman student advising. Students are forewarned about the test, and they are permitted to use calculators when taking it. The score on the test is used to place students in the courses listed below in sequence. A calculus ready engineering student will normally start in MTH 201 (Calculus I). Students who are not calculus ready are placed in MTH 110 (Algebra), 122 (College Algebra) or 123 (Trigonometry). These students are much less likely to complete the engineering program. Calculus courses:

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education Main Menu

Adamczyk, B., & Reffeor, W. (2002, June), Math Literacy And Proficiency In Engineering Students Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10396

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