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Implementing a Math Prerequisite - Does it help or hurt?

By Stacey Kiser1, Christine Andrews2, Matthew Fisher3, Shannon Seidel4, Molloy Wilson2, Natalie Wright5

1. Lane Community College, BioQUEST 2. Lane Community College 3. Oregon Coast Community College 4. Pacific Lutheran University 5. Kenyon College

Poster on the effect of math prerequisite courses on student success in introductory biology. Presented at the 2020 BIOME Institute: Cultivating Scientific Curiosity

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group Cultivating Scientific Curiosity

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Version 1.0 - published on 29 Jul 2020 doi:10.25334/9G2T-WY63 - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

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Faculty and administrators share concern about nationally low rates of student success in introductory biology courses. This issue can be especially salient at community colleges, which have a policy of open enrollment and therefore serve students with different levels of preparation for college. Prerequisite courses that do not promote student success may instead be detrimental because they create financial and temporal hardships for students. We obtained the deidentified student data for 11 years, five prior to prerequisite implementation and six post. We asked the following questions: 1) In what ways, if any, did the mathematics prerequisite affect student success in an introductory majors biology course?; and 2) To what extent did the mathematics prerequisite disproportionately affect underserved demographic groups of students? In the five years before implementation of the mathematics prerequisite, students who had previously completed math were more likely to pass introductory biology than those who had not completed math. The mathematics prerequisite appeared effective in improving student success by significantly increasing pass rates from 65.7% before implementation of the prerequisite to 77.1% after implementation. Student demographics, when compared to the college-wide demographics, are in the analysis stage. Our results provided multiple indications that prior completion of a mathematics course significantly improved student success in an introductory biology course for majors.

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