Selective student placement improves student outcomes in an introductory biology course
We compare results for the first year for which our large-enrollment introductory biology course had a math score pre-requisite to the previous five years when the course had no pre-requisites. Data from the previous five years indicated that most students earning a D or an F in the course had SAT or ACT math scores that placed them into developmental math or college algebra at our institution. Although we do not believe that lack of math proficiency is the only reason for students not doing well in introductory biology we did use student math scores as a surrogate to determine adequate preparation for a college-level introductory biology course. Thus, for the fall 2014 semester, to be placed into introductory biology, a student had to have an SAT or ACT math score that placed them into pre-calculus or calculus at our institution.
For the previous five year period, an average of 42.4% of students earned a D, an F or withdrew from the fall introductory biology course. For the fall 2014 semester only 31.8% of students earned a D, an F or withdrew from the course. For the previous five year period, an average of 65.8% of students moved on from the first to the second introductory biology course. For the fall 2014 semester, 74.2% of students moved on to the second introductory biology course. A lower percentage of students attended zero outside-of-class sessions and a higher percentage of students attended 17 or more sessions over the course of the semester than in the previous five years. As for previous years, an ANOVA indicates that students attending more sessions this fall semester had a higher grade in the course (P < 0.0001).