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The Timing of Math Requirements in Community College Education

At our third meeting on November 28, 2018, we discussed the optimal timing of the math requirement for community college students to maximize their success. We read research on this from the article posted below, which concluded, interestingly, that completing the math requirement in either the first semester or in the fourth or fifth semester (for students followed over six semesters) maximized their chances of graduating within that three-year period. We spent the whole hour interpreting these results and debating possible explanations of the data, and concluded that the results might depend strongly on the previous preparation of the students. Well prepared freshmen might do better to take the math requirement immediately (and feel ready to register for it immediately); whereas less prepared students might experience more success by delaying the math requirement until they have completed a year of college and have experience in managing the academic expectations. The decrease in success for those taking math their last (sixth) semester might indicate students who remain underprepared to complete college-level math.

Wang et al Math Requirement: When to fulfill

The Impact of Prerequisites on Student Learning

At our second meeting on 10/17/18, we discussed the impact of prerequisite courses on student success in subsequent courses. I’ve attached below the article we read and discussed, which summarizes research on this topic for STEM courses. It was a lively discussion! We concluded that while prior knowledge definitely increases student learning, prerequisites are not the only way to achieve that. While prerequisites may be recommended in specific circumstances, their requirement may not always be mandatory for success and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis for each curriculum and student population.


Concept Inventories: Use and Impact

At our first meeting on September 26, we discussed the use and efficacy of concept inventories in STEM. I have included a link to the handout from this meeting, including links to two articles on this topic. The attachment also includes several links to concept inventories in different disciplines. Thanks to Loretta Taras for pulling together these resources.

Concept inventories