An evaluation of the differential effects of the prerequisite pathways on student performance in an introductory biology course

Thursday 10:00am - 10:30am Woodlawn I
Oral Presentation

Amy Kulesza, Ohio State University-Main Campus
Jerome D'Agostino, Ohio State University-Main Campus
Judith Ridgway, Ohio State University-Main Campus
For almost a century, researchers and educators have been asking the question, does a prerequisite science course achieve its goal of preparing students for a subsequent course? Although early studies have shown variable results, college science teaching has changed significantly in the past decade as a result of studies indicating that student centered, active learning classrooms are beneficial for student learning. In 2012, a large, midwestern university underwent an institutional change to a semester system from the quarter system. With that change, prerequisite requirements for introductory biology also changed. In an effort to allow students to move more freely through the course requirements, they are now able to take chemistry as a corequisite to biology. As a result, there are numerous pathways to the prerequisite that a student can take before or alongside introductory biology. The main purpose of this study is to understand the effect of different prerequisite paths of students on their performance in an introductory biology class in the context of a 21st century curriculum. Furthermore, this study seeks to determine the impact, if any, of grades in the prerequisite on the subsequent course of interest. And finally, this study aims to understand how the amount of time between a prerequisite course and a subsequent course effects student performance in that subsequent course. Using hierarchical linear modeling to account for variation between groups of students nested in classrooms, we will present our analysis of students who have taken various pathways to achieve the introductory chemistry prerequisite to an introductory biology course for science majors. This includes students who have taken the prerequisite at the university, those with transfer credit, AP credit, or a combination of all three. Additionally, some students took chemistry as a co-requisite alongside biology. Model comparisons and policy recommendations will be discussed.