How%20Much%20Math%20Do%20They%20Need?%20Determining%20Math%20Prerequisites%20for%20Science%20Courses - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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How%20Much%20Math%20Do%20They%20Need?%20Determining%20Math%20Prerequisites%20for%20Science%20Courses

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Title: How%20Much%20Math%20Do%20They%20Need?%20Determining%20Math%20Prerequisites%20for%20Science%20Courses


1
How Much Math Do They Need? Determining Math
Prerequisites for Science Courses
  • Andria Schwortz
  • Department of Natural Sciences
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Quinsigamond Community College, Worcester, MA

2
Abstract
  • In non-major lab science courses, math skills
    often challenge the students. When math
    prerequisites are in place, students may not
    possess the assumed tools. Discussion starts
    with past attempts to assess the math background
    of students in diverse courses (Astronomy,
    Physics), find correlations, and thus make
    informed prerequisite decisions.

3
Two Courses, Two Extremes
  • PHY 105 - General Physics I
  • Calculus-based
  • Self-selected highly motivated students, with
    well-defined transfer goals
  • SCI 135 - Introduction to Astronomy
  • Low math prerequisite
  • Many students unclear of life, career, and
    academic goals

4
PHY 105 - General Physics I
  • Calculus-based Mechanics
  • Declared majors
  • 48 Basic Engineering
  • 21 General Studies
  • 21 Undeclared
  • 10 Other
  • Highly-motivated students
  • Up to 75 Engineering Transfer
  • Up to 25 Pharmacy Transfer

5
PHY 105 Course Description
  • PHY 105 General Physics I - 4 credits
  • This course covers measurement, kinematics,
    vectors, dynamics, Newtons laws, circular
    motion, gravitation, work and energy,
    conservation of energy, linear momentum and
    collisions, rotational motion about a fixed axis,
    moments of inertia, and angular momentum and its
    conservation. Students perform related laboratory
    experiments.
  • Prerequisite MAT 233 Calculus I

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How does students understanding of Calculus
affect their Physics grade?
8
Math Pretest
  • Originally intended to help students understand
    what math skills required.
  • Administered in-class during first week with
    little or no prior warning (no studying)
  • Plot pretest score against different grade
    components

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PHY 105 Results
  • For a course with a high math prerequisite, a
    math pretest does not accurately predict final
    grade
  • PHY 105 students are actually learning something
    in the course!
  • Method may be of more use in a course with a low
    math prerequisite

15
Two Courses, Two Extremes
  • PHY 105 - General Physics I
  • Calculus-based
  • Self-selected highly motivated students, with
    well-defined transfer goals
  • SCI 135 - Introduction to Astronomy
  • Low math prerequisite
  • Many students unclear of life, career, and
    academic goals

16
SCI 135 - Introduction to Astronomy
  • Conceptual Astronomy
  • Designed for students whose major requires one
    math or 3-credit science course
  • No lab component

17
SCI 135 Course Description
  • SCI 135 Introduction to Astronomy - 3 credits
  • This course consists of a survey of historical
    knowledge about astronomy, as well as recent
    developments in the field. Topics include
    constellations, coordinates, light, Solar System
    planets, the sun, stars, galaxies, and conditions
    for life on other planets. Students perform
    out-of-class projects including observational
    aspects of astronomy, such as the night sky, moon
    phases, and the seasons.
  • Prerequisites ENG 100, MAT 090 Basic
    Mathematics Skills or equivalent placement
    scores.

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Course History
  • Not offered 1986 - 2006
  • Revised Spring 2006
  • Co-requisites of ENG 100, MAT 090 (Basic Math
    Skills)
  • Revised 2007

20
Motivation
  • Poor visualization skills
  • Moon phases, eclipses, heliocentric model.
  • Assumption
  • Math skills correlate with visualization skills

21
Process
  • Obtained transcripts for all 75 students
  • Tallied highest level of Math completed prior to
    taking SCI 135
  • Also tallied highest level of English
  • Plotted SCI 135 grade as a function of highest
    Math course

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MAT 090 - Basic Mathematics Skills
  • MAT 090 Basic Mathematics Skills - 3 credits
  • This course is designed for students with little
    or no background in mathematics. Major topics
    include the following whole numbers, fractions,
    decimals, percents, ratios, proportions, basic
    statistics (finding mean and reading graphs,
    charts and tables) and an introduction to
    algebra. Technology tools are utilized in this
    course. All students are required to participate
    in a unified comprehensive final exam to be
    administered during final exam week and achieve a
    C or better on this exam (or appropriate
    placement on the placement exam) in order to move
    on to the next level of math courses.

25
MAT 095 - Beginning Algebra
  • MAT 095 Beginning Algebra - 3 credits
  • This course covers all basic operations of real
    numbers, linear and literal equations, graphing
    lines (using tables, x and y-intercepts), the
    arithmetic of polynomial expressions including
    properties of exponents, solving and graphing
    linear inequalities, perimeters and areas of
    basic figures, scientific notation and
    intrasystem metric conversions. Technology tools
    are utilized in this course. All students are
    required to participate in a unified
    comprehensive final exam to be administered
    during final exam week and achieve a C or
    better on this exam (or appropriate placement on
    the placement exam) in order to move on to the
    next level of math courses.
  • Prerequisite MAT 090 with a C or better on the
    MAT 090 departmental final exam or placement by
    the Computerized Placement Test.

26
MAT 099 - Intermediate Algebra
  • MAT 099 Intermediate Algebra - 3 credits
  • This course covers major topics in the study of
    algebra. Students learn to factor polynomials
    (common factor, grouping, difference of squares
    and trinomials), perform arithmetic operations on
    rational expressions and complex fractions, and
    solve rational, quadratic (by factoring and
    formula) and literal equations. The course also
    covers applications including the use of the
    Pythagorean theorem, understanding the definition
    of radical expressions, simplifying radical
    expressions containing numerical and variable
    radicands, graphing linear equations using
    slope-intercept concepts, and solving 2x2 systems
    of linear equations by graphing and elimination.
    Technology tools are utilized in this course. All
    students are required to participate in a unified
    comprehensive final exam to be administered
    during final exam week and achieve a C or
    better on this exam (or appropriate placement on
    the placement exam) in order to move on to the
    next level of math courses.
  • Prerequisite MAT 095 with a C or better on the
    MAT 095 departmental final exam or placement by
    the Computerized Placement Test.

27
Unanswered Questions
  • Mid-math slump

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Unanswered Questions
  • Mid-math slump
  • English prereq

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Unanswered Questions
  • Mid-math slump
  • English prereq
  • Source of poor visualization skills?

32
SCI 135 Results
  • Students who didnt take MAT 090 first do poorly
    in the course.
  • Students who did take MAT 090 do slightly better.
  • Spring 2007 increased prereq to MAT 090 based on
    this evidence

33
ENG 100 - Introduction to English Composition
  • ENG 100 Introduction to English Composition - 3
    credits
  • This course is an introduction to college-level
    essay writing emphasizing the writing process
    from planning and drafting through revising and
    editing. Students refine their style of writing
    by focusing on sentence structure and language
    usage and write essays displaying unity, support
    and coherence. Students practice expository
    writing using a variety of rhetorical strategies.
    The exploration of writing is examined through
    reading and analyzing essay models. Students
    develop a familiarity with research tools. Course
    offered online as well as in person.
  • Prerequisite ENG 091 and ENG 096 with a grade of
    C or higher on the departmental writing final
    examination essay or appropriate placement score.

34
ENG 101 - English Composition Literature I
  • ENG 101 English Composition Literature I - 3
    credits
  • This course focuses on how to develop essential
    writing skills including organization,
    correctness, and support of ideas. A research
    project is required to produce a documented essay
    that integrates materials from Internet and
    traditional sources according to standard
    disciplinary format. Students develop and sharpen
    the interpretive and analytical skills necessary
    to evaluate the soundness and appropriateness of
    sources for their work. Course offered online as
    well as in person.
  • Prerequisite ENG 100 or appropriate placement
    score.

35
Course History
  • Not offered 1986 - 2006
  • Revised Spring 2006
  • Co-requisites of ENG 100, MAT 090 (Basic Math
    Skills)
  • Revised Spring 2007
  • Reevaluated co-requisites
  • Prerequisites of ENG 100, MAT 090
  • Spring 2009
  • Conversion for online section/s

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Math and Science Conclusions
  • Math pretesting
  • Retention of Math content and Science grade
  • Examining actual courses taken
  • Prereqs and science grade
  • Cannot distinguish between Math and general
    college readiness
  • Strong evidence to convince others

38
Andria C. Schwortzaschwortz_at_qcc.mass.eduhttp//w
ww.qcc.mass.edu/aschwortz/
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