Article Summary

Mathematics Placement Test: Helping Students Succeed    PDF

2004, Vol. 14, No. 2, 27-33

A study was conducted at Merrimack College in Massachusetts to compare the grades of students who took the recommended course as determined by their mathematics placement exam score and those who did not follow this recommendation. The goal was to decide whether the mathematics placement exam used at Merrimack College was effective in placing students in the appropriate mathematics class. During five years, first-year students who took a mathematics course in the fall semester were categorized into four groups: those who took the recommended course, those who took an easier course than recommended, those who took a course more difficult than recommended, and those who did not take the placement test. Chi-square tests showed a statistically significant relationship between course grade (getting a C– or higher grade) and placement advice. The results indicate that students who take the recommended course or an easier one do much better than those who take a higher-level course or do not take the placement exam. With achievement in coursework as the measure of success, we concluded that the placement test is an effective tool for making recommendations to students about which courses they should take.

About the Author:
Norma G. Rueda is a professor in the Department of Mathematics at Merrimack College, North Andover, MA. Her research interests include mathematical programming and applied statistics.
Carole Sokolowski is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Merrimack College, North Andover, MA. Her research area is undergraduate mathematics education.

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