Teaching and curricular practices contributing to success in gateway courses for freshman and sophomore students in math, science, engineering, and technology (MSTE) majors at a large public research university: A longitudinal study
AdvisorLevin, John S.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation examined teaching and curricular practices that have had an impact on the academic achievement of freshman and sophomore students taking introductory courses in math, science, technology, and engineering (MSTE). A large proportion of undergraduate students intending to pursue MSTE majors switch to other majors after taking introductory courses in math, biology, physics and other courses that constitute a requirement for science and engineering degrees (Astin, 1993). This investigation utilized quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the academic performance of students at a large public research university. In the quantitative phase, two efficiency indices were computed for eleven course sequences for MSTE majors using student cohorts from 1993-1999. The ICE index is the average number of attempts it takes a cohort of students to pass a introductory (gateway) course. An index closer to 1 indicates an efficient course, since an index of 1 means that all students passed the course in the first attempt. The ICE2 index measures the rate of success of students taking the second course in a gateway sequence. The ICE 2 index ranges from 0 to 1. An ICE2 index of 1 for the targeted gateway course is ideal, indicating that every student who passed the first gateway course took and passed the next course in the curricular sequence with a grade of A, B, or C on the first attempt. The qualitative phase of this study consisted of twelve interviews of the faculty and instructors who teach the same courses analyzed in the quantitative phase. In addition, four faculty members who held administrative positions in the MSTE disciplines were interviewed. The purpose of the interviews was to unveil teaching and curricular practices that have had an impact on students' academic achievement. The resulting trends of the efficiency indices failed to demonstrate an improvement in students' academic achievement as measured by the indices, except for three gateway course sequences: Computer Science, Biology, and Management Information Systems. The qualitative phase helped to unravel a myriad of not only faculty's innovations and achievements but also their concerns surrounding practices regarding the introductory courses.
Degree ProgramGraduate College