In this edition of the DATAWave, CAAP math results will be analyzed by student performance in general education mathematics classes. According to the philosophy of general education (ENMU 1995-97 Undergraduate Catalog), students should “understand and apply basic mathematical principles.” The CAAP mathematics test is designed to measure student's proficiency and mathematical reason. The test assesses student's proficiency in solving mathematical problems encountered in most post-secondary curricula, emphasizing quantitative reasoning rather than the memorization of formulas. The content areas include pre-, elementary, intermediate, and advanced algebra, coordinate geometry, trigonometry, and introductory calculus. Complete descriptions of the scale scores are available in the Assessment Resource Office.
There are eleven courses listed in the general education distribution for understanding and applying mathematical principles. The students' CAAP results (n=891) were matched with grades earned in those classes. An appropriate number of matches were found for five classes. Care was taken to ensure that students had completed the math course prior to being assessed by the CAAP. In this edition of the DATAWave, the CAAP results, by courses completed by students, will be examined. In a future edition of the DATAWave, a number of other variables, such as student gender, ethnicity, and preparedness, will be explored.
The national average, according to the fall of 1995 CAAP user norms, was 58.0 (standard deviation = 3.8). The average score for Eastern New Mexico University, since 1993, is a 56.18 (s.d.=3.47). For students who passed Math 107, that is earned a letter grade of “C” or better, the average score was a 56.12 compared to a 56.20 for students who did not take or pass Math 107. Students who passed Math 110 scored 57.86 on average compared to a 55.66. Students who passed Math 113 scored on average a 55.76, which was lower than a 56.21 scored by students who did not attempt Math 113. Students who passed Math 123 scored a 60.88, compared to a 55.77. Students who took Stat 213 scored a 57.53, compared to a 55.92. Of the 272 students who completed Math 107, 71 earned A's, 107 earned B's, and 94 earned C's. Respectively, the mean CAAP math scores for these groups were 57.39, 56.01, and 55.29. Two hundred and six students earned a C or better in Math 110 (58 A's, 74 B's, and 74 C's). The mean CAAP math scores were: A=58.97, B=57.99, and C=56.88. In Math 113, 58 students earned a C or better. Students who earned A's (n=16) averaged 56.31 on the CAAP math test, B's (n=16) averaged 56.81, and students with C's (n=26) averaged 54.77. Seventy students earned a C or better in Math 123. "A" students (n=14) averaged 61.58, "B" students (n=28) averaged 61.29, and "C" students (n=28) averaged 59.75. Of the 138 students in the cohort who passed Stat 213, 52 earned A's (CAAP math score=58.85), 54 earned B's (56.76), and 32 earned C's (56.72).
These distributions of scores were not significant for Math 107 and Math 113; however, they were significant for the other three courses—Math 110, Math 123, and Math 213. It is most interesting to note that students who passed Math 123 scored well above the national mean and students who passed Stat 213 scored very near the national mean. For the purposes of this article it is assumed that these courses are more rigorous, and that students who select these courses perhaps have better beginning skills. However, with regards to outcomes assessment, the institution can only be responsible for learning that occurs in the classes which students take. In the three examples, the Math Department performed quite well. However, in two examples, Math 107 and Math 113, students don’t do quite as well. In particular, students who have taken Math 113 scored worse than students who had not. This certainly does not mean that Math 113 had a negative effect on mathematical abilities, but rather, the people who selected to take that class perhaps were not as confident in mathematical abilities.
Pages 2 and 3 contain a number of box whisker charts which show the distribution of mean scores for the courses. In these charts, the boxes represent the middle 50% of all scores while the lines that extend from the boxes (the “whiskers”) show the full distribution of the scores. (For the purposes of this article, outliers have been eliminated from the charts.) The heavy line represents the median for the distribution.
For the majority of students who have taken math classes at Eastern, ACT scores were not available. However, were they available, the mean scores of students who passed Math 107 were lower than those who did not attempt Math 107 (17.98 versus 20.83). Similarly for Math 113, ACT scores of students who passed were lower than those who did pass (19.21 versus 19.68). In all other cases, the math scores of students who successfully attempted and completed the courses were higher than those who did not.
Of the 891 students who have participated in the CAAP at Eastern, 406 have not taken any math classes. Two hundred sixty-four have taken one, 179 have taken 2, and 42 have taken 3 or more. For those who have not taken any math classes their mean CAAP math score was a 55.14, those who have taken one class or more with a “C” or better earned a 56.50, two or more a 57.67, and three or more a 57.81.
|n||¯x||S.D.||x Passed||x Did not take/ Pass|
|0 Math Classes||406||55.14||3.41|
|1 Math Class||264||56.50||3.41|
|2 Math Classes||179||57.67||2.92|
|3 or more Math Classes||42||57.81||3.23|
In conclusion, students who have successfully passed (a “C” or better) math courses at Eastern scored slightly below the national average. These students do, however, score higher than students who have not completed courses in mathematics at Eastern. Because of the low number of students who have completed the ACT, it is not possible to conduct a regression analysis. However, if asked whether Eastern’s math classes contribute to overall performance on the CAAP math scale, it seems that the evidence is yes. Members of the campus community are invited to forward their own conclusions and observations to the Assessment Resource Office, ext. 4313 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.