Attitudinal and mathematical assessments as measures of student success in a college general chemistry II course

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Ohio Journal of Science


This study reports results from administering unannounced attitudinal and mathematical assessments to 118 students, at the beginning of the term, in second-semester general chemistry classes (designed for science majors) at Eastern Michigan University. Testing was conducted during the 2010-2011 school year. The question to be answered was: which is more important in determining student course grades, attitudes toward chemistry and mathematics, or mathematical skill? The hypothesis was that attitudes and mathematical skill equally affect final course grade. A modified Wiebe instrument was selected to evaluate student attitudes toward chemistry and mathematics. To evaluate student mathematical skills, this study employed a mathematics assessment developed and performed at the University of Minnesota, and hence will be called the Minnesota Mathematics Assessment or MMA—a 20-question, multiple choice quiz designed for second-semester general chemistry students. Results were inter-correlated to determine what factors influenced student success. This study found a strong correlation between mathematics attitudes and chemistry attitudes, with a Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (r) of 0.50. Between course grade vs. either chemical attitudes or mathematics attitudes, the r values were 0.25 and 0.23 respectively, showing weak correlations. The correlation of course grade versus total MMA score gave an r value of 0.35, a moderate correlation. Comparison of the current study's MMA results with those of a previous Minnesota study demonstrates that the MMA is reproducible. The correlation coefficient found for course grade vs. total MMA score was comparable to that found in the Minnesota study. Analysis of the 20-question MMA data resulted in a 10-question subgroup whose r = 0.41. Although some gender attitude differences were found, these did not correlate with course grade.

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