Document Type

Research Paper


This study examines a modified strategy for diagnostic testing and its use as a predictor of performance in college math. A study conducted in 2005 analyzed the results of a single diagnostic test given at the beginning of first semester to all students in the School of Manufacturing Sciences post-secondary programs at Fanshawe College. The range of topics covered by this single test was comprehensive. The attempt to find correlation between the results of this test and grade outcomes in first semester college technology math was inconclusive. The current study examines the results of a system of two similar tests, administered to students of the 2007 Fall intake of the same school. The first of the two tests was given during the first mathematics class of the semester; the second test after approximately two weeks of the semester. The content of the first test was reviewed during lectures in the intervening two week period so that student progress could be gauged with respect to results from the first assessment. The results of the combined diagnostic test results provide a more effective predictive tool than the results from the 2005 study. Specifically, the findings of this study show that 67.9% of students who failed the diagnostic tests (combined mark) failed first semester mathematics in the Fall of 2007. The current study and the 2005 study show that both grade 11 and 12 mathematics courses have a significant effect on performance in first semester college mathematics. The pathway MBF3C–MAP4C (11C-12C) is the most common pathway chosen by first semester entrants and further, this pathway is insufficient preparation for first semester college technology mathematics of post-secondary programs offered by the School of Manufacturing Sciences. This study finds that an overwhelming number of students who took the applied stream mathematics course in grade 10 pursued the pathway MBF3C-MAP4C. Students who chose an alternate pathway culminating in the grade 12C course, MAP4C, fared much better in first semester technology mathematics, suggesting that the choice of grade 11 mathematics course has the greater impact on success in college mathematics. Both this study and the previous study show that all students who had taken Mathematics for College Technology in grade 12 (MCT4C) passed first semester college technology mathematics in the School of Manufacturing Sciences post-secondary programs in the Fall of 2005 and 2007.

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