Addressing Math Readiness for Engineering and Other STEM Programs

Kathleen Fick, Denise Bauer
2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access Proceedings   unpublished
Kathleen Fick is a Professor of Mathematics and her current research focuses on mathematics education and undergraduate curriculum, specifically the areas of 1) future educators' mathematical understanding and preparation; 2) teachers' mathematical content knowledge, understanding, and training; 3) the development of children's algebraic and geometric understanding; 4) procedural versus conceptual error analysis; and 5) the use and understanding of manipulatives. Dr. Fick has been involved in
more » ... been involved in numerous grants and curriculum initiatives to increase mathematical content knowledge within the K-16 arena, in regard to both student and teacher content knowledge and understanding. Dr. Denise H Bauer, Methodist University Dr. Denise H. Bauer is an Associate Professor, Chair, and founding Director of the Department of Engineering at Methodist University. Dr. Bauer has worked on several initiatives to increase enrollment and retention of underrepresented groups including development of first-year engineering courses for students under-prepared for college-level math. Her main research area is Human Factors and Ergonomics, which she uses to help design classroom environments considering both student and instructor needs. Abstract During the 2016 academic year, Methodist University found that our math sequence required some curriculum modifications in order to better support our growing Engineering Program. To meet the needs of incoming students, we created an Integrated Precalculus I course in conjunction with a new placement grid that incorporates both ACT/SAT math scores and the high school GPA for placement into the first semester mathematics course. This integrated course combines the College Algebra and Precalculus I courses so that students are on track for Precalculus II in the spring semester. Students are then ready for Calculus the following fall without the need for a summer course or delaying their studies unnecessarily. This Integrated Precalculus I course was offered as a pilot program in 2017 and has now been offered for three consecutive years. Only students in the STEM majors of engineering, economics, chemistry, computer science, kinesiology, and mathematics are currently allowed to take the course as they all require some sequence of mathematics that involves courses that are only offered once a year. This is an ongoing project as we are still evaluating the course through student success in subsequent mathematics courses, retention in the major and at the university, and time to complete the mathematics sequence. We are in phase one of conducting the analysis by tracking each student in the new Integrated Precalculus I course as well as the traditional mathematics sequence. These students currently are enrolled in the Calculus sequence, thus the data presented is from completed MAT 1125 Integrated Precalculus I, MAT 1130 Precalculus, and MAT 1140 Precalculus II courses. The results are helping further evaluate the placement grid and approach to course topics, as well as what it means for recruitment and retention of nonmath-ready STEM students (especially engineering). An upward trend in the average Integrated Precalculus grade while there is a downward trend in ACT/SAT math scores indicates the pedagogical changes have made a positive impact on these students' success. However, we did notice there are still concerns with the students right at the ACT/SAT placement cutoffs for both Precalculus I courses. We also discuss how it may help other institutions or high schools develop a curriculum without the need for multiple remedial courses.
doi:10.18260/1-2--34095 fatcat:mxuxgnjfwvdvliqt66oyf2k244