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Implementing a Math Prerequisite - Does it help or hurt?

Author(s): 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

464 total view(s), 79 download(s)

7 comment(s) (Post a comment)

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

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

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

Description

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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  1. Comment removed by original commenter @ on   (Edited: @ on )

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    Tamara Basham @ on   (Edited: @ on )

    Thank you for sharing your work. This is something that we have questioned, too.

    I teach Environmental Science at a Community College. We have Math prerequisites (Foundations in Math and Intro Algebra) for our courses, and so do our Biology courses. In our first semester course we also spend an entire lab period reviewing the Math and graph interpretation skills that students will use during the course. I'm uncertain how effective this is.

    It would be really interesting to see an analysis across campuses. Do you think that there is a certain level of Math that needs to be reached in order to see an improvement in success in Science courses, or is it more the problem solving skills that are gained from the Math courses that is helpful? Also, would you expect to see similar results for other Science courses?

    I look forward to seeing the results of your other analyses!

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    Gabriela Florido @ on

    With AB705 implemented it seems like our students are coming in with a huge gap of knowledge. 

    If you are seeing it in Biology imagine how bad it is in Mathematics courses like Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus and Statistics. Thank you for sharing your research findings. Our college currently does not have a pre-requisite for Biology but college algebra would be a good pre--req option, it is still a transferable course. 

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  4. J. Phil Gibson @ on   (Edited: @ on )

    We have been shifting away from my intro being so heavily focused on writing to make it more about data collection and analysis. Math pre-req would help.

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  5. Marie C. Montes-Matias @ on   (Edited: @ on )

    Very interesting.  I also teach at a community college and our General Biology courses do not have a Math Pre-req.  Wondering if results would be comparable.  

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    Pat Marsteller @ on

    Very interesting.  I hope that you can gather some of the data from attendees on pre-reqs.  Another question of interest might be per or joint enrollment in Chem

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  7. Adania Flemming @ on   (Edited: @ on )

    Thank you for sharing the feedback. I liked that the presentation was animated so that in some ways I was presenting to myself. I would love to chat with you all about the surveys you used and any potential guiding theories. 

    Please check out our poster to learn more about three different approaches to broadening diversity on STEM using natural history collections.. The course that I created and teach is the one that has some parallels to your project in terms of looking at how students are prepared to be successful in STEM.

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