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Using 'advising Contours' For Placement In First Year Quantitative Courses

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Assessment Issues in 1st-Yr Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1394.1 - 10.1394.20



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Paper Authors

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Eric Soulsby

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

Using ‘Advising Contours’ for placement in first-year quantitative courses

Dr. Eric P. Soulsby

University of Connecticut School of Engineering Storrs, CT 06269


Prior to 2004, the University of Connecticut required all students to take mathematics placement tests prior to enrolling in any quantitative course. Two tests were required: a Q-course Readiness test and a Calculus Readiness test. These tests were offered online as a pseudo-course within a WebCT environment and were taken by students prior to attending an orientation/registration session during the summer. Successful completion of these tests at a minimum 60% passing rate was necessary for a student to be able to register for a quantitative and calculus course, respectively.

Based on a statistical analysis of the performance of students in quantitative course work, it was determined that these placement tests could be replaced; i.e., there was little value added in having the mandatory tests taken prior to enrollment when other factors such as a student’s Math SAT and high school class rank information could serve as suitable predictors of performance. A logistic regression analysis was performed whereby “success” in a quantitative course was equated to obtaining a grade of C or higher, with a grade of C- or below being equated with “failure”. Significant model parameters used in the logistic regression included the student’s Math SAT score and high school class rank percentile.

‘Advising Contours’ were developed for each 100-level quantitative course taken by first year students. These contour diagrams were published on a placement web site to aid students and advisors in selecting which quantitative courses to enroll in during the first term. Placement in quantitative course work has therefore shifted from requiring a gatekeeper placement test to being advisory in nature with the ‘Advising Contours’ forming a crucial piece of information for both students and advisors. Placement in first-year calculus makes use of a new Calculus Readiness Survey offered online within the WebCT environment in conjunction with the ‘Advising Contours’ for each of the different levels of calculus.


As Sperber [14] points out, in recent years the academic preparedness of students entering higher education has shown a shift away from those of the ‘academic’ subculture (the undergraduate student subculture of serious academic effort) to that of the ‘collegiate’ subculture (a world of

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Soulsby, E. (2005, June), Using 'advising Contours' For Placement In First Year Quantitative Courses Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15440

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