Most college students complete courses in physical and life science as general education requirements. Although the level of difficulty of these survey courses is relatively low compared to upper-level science courses, a number of students still struggle to pass them. The purpose of this research was to investigate (a) the nature of mathematics background of students enrolling in physical science courses; (b) the change in mathematics ability of students at the end of the semester; and (c) what is the relationship between mathematics background and course completion and success. A 15-item test of basic mathematics skills was administered as a pre-test and post-test to students in two sections of Introduction to Physical Science at Arkansas Tech University. Results show that more than half of the students performed deficiently or failed the pre-test, that students who finished the course did not gain any significant knowledge in mathematics, that students who eventually withdrew from the course performed worst in the pre-test than students who persisted, and that there is a statistically significant relationship between pre- and post-test scores and students' final grades in the course.
Gonzalez-Espada, Wilson J.
"Succeeding in Introduction to Physical Science: Is Mathematics Background Important?,"
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 58
, Article 11.
Available at: http://scholarworks.uark.edu/jaas/vol58/iss1/11