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Success In Fall Math Course For Freshman Students Accepting

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Research on The First Year II

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1140.1 - 15.1140.11



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Paper Authors

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Nancy O'Connor Villanova University

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Gerard Jones Villanova University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Success in Fall Math Course for Freshman Students Accepting AP Tests/Villanova Equivalents for Introductory Math Courses – A Three-Year Study Abstract

In the College of Engineering at Villanova University, incoming freshman students are offered Villanova course credit for introductory calculus courses based on their achieved AP test scores. Incoming students as well as their parents often look to the faculty and/or administrative staff for practical advice in making a decision about AP options. Results of a three-year study, presented in the paper, show the relationship between AP test scores and student success after accepting offered calculus credit and moving on to another course, compared to declining calculus credit. By making these data available, along with their understanding of their own capabilities, students may make a better judgment on whether or not to use their AP credit for calculus courses.

The study considered course performance data over a three-year period. The table and figures presented in the paper demonstrate relative first-math-course success for incoming students who elected to accept or not to accept the offered credit.

While this three-year sampling is small, it could be used to offer practical advice to incoming students and their parents who are trying to make a decision about accepting all, part, or none of the offered AP calculus credit.


1.0 General

There have been a number of studies intended to determine whether or not success on AP Math exams translates into adequate preparation for the study of calculus in college. One study was done by researchers at Texas Christian University and Mississippi State University to investigate whether taking AP courses in high school had an effect on students’ first year of college success. The study concluded that “AP experience may serve as a signal of high ability and motivation, but it does not by itself indicate superior academic readiness.”1 Harvard University and University of Virginia researchers, after examining the question of whether students who had taken AP courses in high school performed as well in college as AP advocates said they should, concluded that “doing well in an Advanced Placement science course in high school does not guarantee that a student will do equally well in an introductory college-level course in the same subject.”2

A study at Notre Dame University examined the question of how students with AP credit for calculus compared with students who arrived at the university without having had the AP calculus experience. “In Calculus III, those students who arrived with AP credit for the first two calculus courses outperformed those students who took Calculus I and II courses at the university.”3 Another investigation examined the question of whether it makes sense for students who have done well in AP Calculus to skip Calculus I in college. The study concluded that “while the evidence suggests that there is little or no benefit in retaking a calculus course for

O'Connor, N., & Jones, G. (2010, June), Success In Fall Math Course For Freshman Students Accepting Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16152

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