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The Implementation Of An Online Mathematics Placement Exam And Its Effects On Student Success In Precalculus And Calculus

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Conference

2009 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Mathematics: Recruitment and Retention

Tagged Division

Mathematics

Page Count

18

Page Numbers

14.1225.1 - 14.1225.18

DOI

10.18260/1-2--5541

Permanent URL

https://jee.org/5541

Download Count

178

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Paper Authors

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Doug Bullock Boise State University

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Doug Bullock is Chair of Mathematics at Boise State University. His research interests include math education, quantum topology, quantum algebra and representation theory, with particular emphasis on applications to knot theory and the topology of 3-manifolds.

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Janet Callahan Boise State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-6665-1584

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Janet M. Callahan is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the College of Engineering at Boise State University and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Department. She received her Ph.D. in Materials Science, her M.S. in Metallurgy and her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut. Her educational research interests include freshmen engineering programs, math success, K-12 STEM curriculum, and recruitment and retention in engineering and STEM fields.

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Yuguang Ban Boise State University

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Yuguang Ban is a graduate student working on a Masters in Mathematics with emphases in Statistics and Bioinformatics. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from Lewis-Clark State College earned in 2007.

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Alison Ahlgren University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Alison M. Ahlgren is the Quantitative Reasoning Coordinator in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Cheryl Schrader Boise State University

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Cheryl B. Schrader is Dean of the College of Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boise State University. Dean Schrader has an extensive record of publications and sponsored research in the systems, control and engineering education fields. Recent recognition related to this work includes the 2005 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering and Mathematics Mentoring from the White House and the 2008 IEEE Education Society Hewlett-Packard/Harriett B. Rigas Award. Dean Schrader received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Valparaiso University, and her M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Ph.D. in Systems and Control, both from University of Notre Dame.

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

The Implementation of an Online Mathematics Placement Exam and its Effects on Student Success in Precalculus and Calculus

Introduction Engineering education research on the impact of freshman engineering courses reveals a close connection between graduation rate and first semester GPA.1 The same research also explains the importance of first-semester math placement, so as to provide students with the necessary background for success. For example, students at Purdue University that earned a grade of A in a pre-calculus course in the first semester had the same engineering retention rate as students who earned a B in the first semester calculus class.1 Yet, if those same students are placed based on their SAT math scores, such students would probably fail calculus if taken in their first semester.1 A recent study on parameters that affect student success indicated that the grade earned in a student’s first college level mathematics class was significantly correlated to whether or not those students persisted in engineering, while the level at which they began mathematics study at the university was not.2 French, et al. conclude in their study of indicators of engineering students’ success and persistence, that achievement of good grades at the student’s university is an indicator of persistence, and suggests that retention programs focus on academic achievement.3 These studies highlight the importance of timely and accurate student placement in mathematics in terms of success in engineering programs.

A number of different math assessment tools are widely used by universities for student placement in mathematics courses. These tools include the mathematics portions of the ACT 4 and SAT,5 the mathematics AP exams,4 COMPASS4 examinations and CLEP5exams. Many universities and mathematics departments also have internal exams used for math placement that they have developed over the years and routinely administer. Student scores on the ACT and SAT exams are also used by most universities as part of their admissions criteria, and it is common practice to record and use for both admissions and placement the highest score achieved by students on these examinations. Thus, information about what students know, or presumably knew at some point in their history, is available in the form of ACT or SAT or both to mathematics departments. These scores are frequently used for first semester mathematics placement at the precalculus and calculus levels. However, the ACT/SAT information does not provide a current measure of a student’s knowledge in mathematics. Thus, for example, if a student last took either of these examinations in the middle of their junior year of high school, and then did not take mathematics during their senior year, a significant change in current math knowledge would be expected to occur. Also, students who continued in their mathematics instruction in their senior year of high school but did not retake the SAT or ACT examination would be placed too low. At Boise State University, which is an accessible metropolitan university, it is not uncommon to encounter students that took the ACT or SAT one time only. For example, in fall 2008, among first-time first semester freshmen, 34% of engineering students at Boise State University took one of the exams (ACT or SAT) one time only, most likely during their junior year of high school.

Bullock, D., & Callahan, J., & Ban, Y., & Ahlgren, A., & Schrader, C. (2009, June), The Implementation Of An Online Mathematics Placement Exam And Its Effects On Student Success In Precalculus And Calculus Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5541

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015