Achievement in first year college chemistry related to high school preparation

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  • 0 ACHIEVEMENT IN FIRST YEAR COLLEGE CHEMISTRY RELATED TO HIGH SCHOOL PREPARATION'

    ROBERT C. BRASTED University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota2

    A PROJECT was initiated by the High School Liaison Committee of the Minnesota Section of the American Chemical Society, the ultimate objective of which was to give recognition to a selected number of high school chemistry teachers in the state. It was apparent that the achievement of students from certain high schools in the state in college chemistry was well above the average, that a relatively high percentage of students from certain high schools were entering one or another of the sciences as major fields of interest, and that the high school chemistry teachers of these high schools were exerting a strong and favorable in- fluence on these students. The committee has long been of the opinion that recognition should be given such teachers.

    As a means of obtaining quantitative data on which a partial evaluation of teaching could be based, the heads of the chemistry departments in all colleges and universities within the area described by the Minnesota Section were contacted and a request made for their cooperation in the collection of data. The number of students enrolled in the second semester or quarter of first year college chemistry was determined and a suffi- cient number of cards sent to each institution for each of these students. The cards were filled out by each student, collected by the teacher, and returned to the High School Liaison Committee. Six items were in- cluded on the 3 X 5 data cards:

    1. Name of your high school and its location. 2. Name of your high school chemistry teacher. 3. Date of completing high school chemistry. 4. Name of college or university you are presently attending. 5. Your grade in first semester (or quarter) of college ohem-

    istry. 6. Are you planning on a major in the sciences?

    In this survey all general college chemistry students in their second semester or quarter in fifteen institutions contributed data, including liberal arts colleges, Catholic colleges, universities, state teachers colleges and junior colleges. Data were obtained from nearly 1400 stu-

    ' Presented in part before the Summer Institute for Teachers of College Chemistry, Northcentral Session, 1955, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota; the Summer Institutes for Tesohers of College and High Sohool Chemistry, Eastern Session, 1955, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York; and the North Central Teachers Association of Wisconsin, Science and Mathe- matics Section, Wausau, Wisconsin, March, 1957.

    The author is indebted to the teachers of chemistry in the colleges and universities of the State of Minnesota for their cooperation in collecting data for this study, as well as the High School Liaison Committee of the Minnesota. Seotion of the American ChemicalSociety.

    dents in this survey and from another 1100 students in a supplementary study, reported in a later section of this study. In practice, then, this survey is not based upon a sampling technique since an effort was made to obtain data from every student in the fifteen colleges and universities.

    On the occasion of the May, 1957, meeting of the Minnesota Section of the American Chemical Societv, a " . dinner was held to honor six high school science teachers chosen for the excellence in the teaching of high school students and their success in directing students into scientific areas. As mentioned earlier, data herein reported were used as a preliminary screening of many hundreds of possible candidates. The final choice of six was understandably a difficult problem. Much weight was placed on the performance in science fair programs, activities of the science clubs, as well as recommendations by college and university teachers and unsolicited comments made by students.

    The recipients of the awards (a framed hand-lettered Old English script certificate, a cash award, and a sub- scription to the JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL EDUCATION) are listed. Karl Asberg, Mankato High School, Mankato, Minnesota Walter Banner, Rochester High Sohaol, Rochester, Minnesota Theodore Molitor, Alexander Ramsey High School, Rosevillc

    Public Schools, Minnesota Robert Molkenbur, Central High School, St. Paul, Minnesota Carl Pearson, Southwest High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota Martin Thames, Bemidji High School, Bemidji, Minnesota

    Certain of the data derived from the cards was obviously useful for a general survey of the achieve- ment of college chemistry students based upon a number of factors. These data are reported in the following tables and should provide high school counselors with "ammunition" for proper preparation in chemistry, physics, and mathematics before entering the college or university of their choice.

    Table 1 provides a breakdown of the students based

    TABLE 1 Percentage of Studants in Second Half of First Year College Chemistry Related to Geographical Origin of High School

    Training

    With highschoolchemistry, Yo Urban Metropolitan Rural-consolidated

    Without high school cha i8 ty ,% Urban Metropolitan Rural-consolidsted

    JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL EDUCATION

  • upon the geographic location of their high school. The term urban is used to denote cities and towns of approxi- mately 204,000 population. Metropolitan refers to an area of over a million population and rural-consolidated refers to the areas of low population density with, in general, small high schools.

    ACHIEVEMENT IN COLLEGE CHEMISTRY RELATED TO PREPARATION IN HIGH SCHOOL

    Table 2 includes the performance of students with and without high school chemistry. The very marked differences in performance are obvious irrespective of geographic area.

    TABLE 2 Geographic Origin of High School Related to Achievement (Students With High School Chemistry Compared to Those

    Without High School Chemistrv)

    A B C D Zndez*

    W i t h high school chemistq, 7, Urban 18.5 35.3 37.1 9 . 1 2.63 Metropolitan 2 0 . 0 32.7 36.7 10.6 2.69 Rural-consolidated 17.5 34.7 35.8 12.0 2.56 Over-all 18.7 3 4 . 2 36.2 10.9 2.60

    Withoul high school chemistry, %

    Based upon 4for A, 3for B, etc.

    The observation is not new, neither is it unconfirmed by others, that the performance of the student with high school chemistry is higher than the student with- out the same training. The primary point of conten- tion now seems to he whether students with this prep- aration are inherently of a better grade or whether the preparative work in high school has led to better achievement in college chemistry. The student with sufficient intellectual curiosity, the initiative, or with proper counseling, to take the chemistry course in high school has in general also taken high school physics and more than the minimum requirements in mathematics and is thusin a far more favorable position than the student who for one or more of the above reasons has not taken the preparative work. Data in tables which follow provide some answers to these points of contention.

    Achievement Based, U p m the Size of the High School. A further breakdown of the data is included in Table 3. The size of the high school is indicated in the size of the graduating class. The data indicate that students from the small high schools with preparation in high school chemistry perform as well (or better) than those from the large high schools where supposedly one should find better physical facilities.

    Parochial High School Training Cmnpared with That in Public High Schools. In the course of the survey it became evident that students with preparation in parochial high schools performed at a higher level in the college chemistry courses than those from public schools. Table 4 hears out this conclusion. The number of students from the private high schools con- tributing data is very small compared to those from parochial.

    TABLE 4 Type of High School Related to Achievement in College

    Chemistrv

    Parochial Rural- Grade, 7" and pn'vate Metropolitan consolidated

    Performance in College Chemistry Related to Date of Completing High School Chemistry. The large number of data cards surveyed formulated an interesting correla- tion between achievement in college chemistry and the year of completing high school chemistry. Rather surprising indices are noted in Table 5. The two-year period 1951 and 1952 is particularly unusual. A division is again made bmed upon geographic location of the high school.

    TABLE 5 Date of Completing High School Chemistry Related to Achievement in College Chemistry (First Semester or

    Ouarter)

    0un;ell U ~ b a n Rural- Year indez metropolitan consolidated

    A survey of "outrof-state" students (from seven states) both with and without high school chemistry was made. The indices for those with high school chemistry were comparable with "in-state". The indices for those without high school chemistry were again appreciably lower.

    COMPARISON OF GRADING PRACTICES IN DIFFERENT TYPES OF COLLEGES

    The possibility existed that grading practices varied

    TABLE 3 Achievement of Students (With High School Chemistry) in General College Chamistry Related to Size of High School

    Grade, % BO Ouerall

    VOLUME 34, NO. 11, NOVEMBER, 1957 563

  • TABLE 6 Comparison of Students from Catholic High Schools in the University of Minnesota with Students of Similar

    Background in Catholic Colleges

    Grade, % U. of Minn. Catholic colleges

    A 16.3 22.3 B 36.7 32.3 C 40.8 38.2 D 6 . 2 7 .2 Index 2.63 2.72

    in different types of colleges and universities and that these differences might account for the higher index of students from parochial schools. Table 6 gives a. com- parison of students in the University of Minnesota taking college chemistry with preparation in parochial schools with students in Catholic colleges with similar training. In both instances the performance is above the average of all those with high school chemistry (index of 2.52). Tahle 7 gives an additional breakdown to permit comparisons of grading practices in different types of institutions of higher learning.

    drawal before the end of the quarter with marginal to failing performance, the W is an approved withdrawal but, again in this discussion, infers that the student is doing marginal to failing work. The importance of proper preparation is again most emphatically indicated. A discouragingly large percentage do not make a successful effort to complete the first quarter of work due to inadequate preparation. PHYSICS AND MATHEMATICS PREPARATION RELATED TO ACHIEVEMENT IN HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY

    The same body of students in the C course was used to evaluate achievement in college chemistry based upon whether they had or had not had a course in high school physics. The data are given in Table 9.

    Although the differences depending on preparation are not as great as with the chemistry preparation, they are well enough defined to point out the benefit of preparation in both chemistry and physics. Two addi- tional studies were made permitting the comparison: students with high school chemistry but no high school

    TABLE 7 College Classification Related to Achievement in College Chemistry

    Catholic Liberal wts Slate Tehm & JI. Grade, % U. of Minn. colleges colleges colleges Ow-all

    A 17.0 21.3 14.3 15.3 16.7 B 30.5 38.1 39.9 33.7 32.9 C 37.5 32.5 41.4 38.4 37.5 D 15.0 8 .1 9 . 4 12.6 12.9 Index 2.52 2.72 2 .54 2.52 2.52

    TABLE 8 Achievement in First Quarter College Chemistry Based Upon High School Chemistry Preparation

    Courses Course Course Course A + B + C A B C

    Grade, % With Without With Without With Without With Without A 14.0 4 . 4 17.6 0 11.3 4 .5 13.4 4 . 8 B 27.4 13.6 25.0 16.9 41.2 29.6 24.2 9 . 0 C 34.1 31.1 32.3 38.9 36.2 40.9 34.1 27.7 D 13.2 15.4 16.2 11.1 5 .6 15.9 14.3 15.7 F & Z 5 .2 11.8 2 . 5 5 .6 1 .9 6 . 8 7 .3 13.9 W 6 . 1 23.7 6 . 4 27.8 3 .8 2 .3 6 . 7 28.9

    (79.8%) (20.2%) (91.9%) (8.1%) (78.4%) (21.6%) (76.4%) (23.6%)

    SUPPLEMENT TO THE STATE-WIDE SURVEY

    A supplementary survey was conducted involving some 1100 University of Minnesota students. Three courses of instmction in general chemistry are offered and with no subdivision based upon high school chemistry preparation. The data are recorded in Tahle 8 (et seq.). Course A is the professional course for chemists and chemical engineers, the great majority of whom have had good preparation in high school chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Course B is offered for all other engineering students. Course C includes students in all other categories.

    At the foot of each column in Table 8 the percentages of students in each classification are noted. It is worthy to note that about as many enter the engineering curricula (Course B) without high school chemistry as enter the more general curricula (represented by the C course). Of greatest interest are the percentages re- ceiving the F and Z grades and W grade. The F is obvious, the Z here represents nonapproved with-

    564

    TABLE 9 Achievement in First Quarte. College Chemistry Related to Preparation in High School Physics (C Course Only) -

    Grade, % With Without Overdl1 A 13.4 7 . 8 11.4 B 22.8 16.6 20.6 C 34.3 32.9 32.7 D 13.8 15.6 14.6 F & Z 8 .1 12.9 8 . 8 W 7 6 14.2 11.9

    physics; and students with high school physics but with no high school chemistry. These data are in- cluded in Tables 10 and 11. Of the 1100 students only 190 fell into these categories. It is obvious that the high school chemistry preparation has been the most beneficial.

    A final survey was carried out to correlate the achievement in college chemistry with high school mathematics preparation. The courses used were B

    JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL EDUCATION

  • TABLE 10 TABLE 11 Achievement in First Quarter College Chemistry of Stu- Achievement in First Quarte~ of Collage Chemistry of dents with High School Chemistry but with No High Students with High School Physics but with No High

    School Physics School Chemistry

    % Grade, average of all students O/o, Grade average of all students Grade % Grade with high school chemistry Gmde % Grade with high school physics

    TABLE 12 Relationship between High School Mathematics Background and Achievement in First Quarter of College Chemistry

    Chemistry B and C Chemistry B Chemistry C Grade, % 8 cou~sea B courses

    A 8 . 0 13.4 6 . 4 10.5 8 . 1 15.1 B 19.4 29.6 35.6 39.0 18.2 24.4 C 30.0 37.5 48.4 35.4 28.5 38.7 D 15.9 11.0 6 . 4 8 . 1 16.7 12.5 F&Z 10.5 4 .8 3 . 2 2 . 9 11.1 5 . 8 W 16.2 3 .7 0 4.1 17 .4 3 . 5

    (46.9%) (53.1%) (15.3%) (84.7%) (56.0%) (44.0%)

    and C combined and B and C individually. Tahula- tions are given based upon students with two (or fewer) high school math courses (9th grade algebra and/or plane geometry), in comparison with those with three (or more) courses (including higher algebra, solid geometry and/or trigonometry). Course C is perhaps of greatest interest since the numbers with the "mini- mum" preparation (2 courses) are about equal. The per- centage of students failing and/or wi...

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