Impact of initiatives for helping first year students start on track in mathematics sequence

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This is an evidence-based practice paper. New Jersey Institute of Technology, located in Newark, NJ, administers mathematics placement test to all incoming first time full-time first year students, except those with proof of advanced placement or transfer credits for calculus courses. Performance on this placement test determines students' starting point in the calculus sequence. Students will either be placed in Calculus-I, which is the preferred scenario, or one of the two pre-calculus courses. Students that are placed in pre-calculus courses start 1-2 courses behind as compared to those placed in Calculus-I. In addition, performance in the mathematics placement test also drives placement in physics and chemistry. All this put together means that students that do not do well on the mathematics placement test are looking at 1-2 added semester(s) to their graduation, at the least. As a common practice across most colleges and universities in the United States, mathematics and science courses serve as pre-requisites or co-requisites to most core engineering courses. This makes things even more difficult for some students placed in pre-calculus courses who may run out of course options if they do not make quick progress in their mathematics sequence. Understandably, this not only hurts students' motivation to continue but also their retention and graduation rates. Acknowledging the seriousness of this issue, our college started a series of programs and initiatives to help students start on track in mathematics sequence and/or to make quick progress in it. This paper presents an overview of three main initiatives: strong student outreach, engineering mathematics summer boot camp and practice placement tests with placement calculator to determine mathematics placement based on placement test scores. Although the practice placement test and placement calculator initiatives were first implemented only in 2017, the engineering mathematics summer boot camp has been continuously offered since summer of 2015. This paper presents data collected on student performance and through various surveys. It also presents results of data analysis and short-term and long-term impact of these initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 23 2018
Event125th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2018Dec 27 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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