TY - JOUR

T1 - Effects of Variable Mix on Student Mathematics Performance

AU - Molina, Gustavo J.

AU - Clark, George

AU - Mitra, Aniruddha

PY - 2004/6/1

Y1 - 2004/6/1

N2 - This paper was published in the Proceedings of the 2004 ASEE Annual Meeting and Conference. Engineering and Engineering Technology students encounter a wide variety of variables in their coursework. To prepare for courses in their specific majors, these students usually take a common core of mathematics classes, which are typically taught using x and y. The authors wished to determine whether students’ mathematical performance using other variables was on a par with their ability to manipulate x and y. A ten problem quiz was designed in two versions: one using only x and y, the other using a wider range of variables. The problems were identical in all other respects. Since the population to be tested included first-year students, none of the problems was calculus-based. One of the questions did not use any variable at all. This was included as a control question. The quiz was given to one hundred twenty-four students in first, second, and third year courses at Georgia Southern University. The sample population is a mix of Engineering and Engineering Technology majors, including native and transfer students. Students in several classes were given the quiz with the two versions randomly distributed within each class. Students taking the xy version of the quiz scored significantly higher than students taking the mixed-variable quiz. Students with higher class rankings (juniors and seniors) showed a lower difference between the quiz versions than did students classified as freshmen / sophomores. Classification of students’ rankings was based on individual mathematics course histories as reported by the students. This paper presents the detailed results of the study, along with suggestions for further research into this topic. These results may be useful in indicating areas where review is needed.

AB - This paper was published in the Proceedings of the 2004 ASEE Annual Meeting and Conference. Engineering and Engineering Technology students encounter a wide variety of variables in their coursework. To prepare for courses in their specific majors, these students usually take a common core of mathematics classes, which are typically taught using x and y. The authors wished to determine whether students’ mathematical performance using other variables was on a par with their ability to manipulate x and y. A ten problem quiz was designed in two versions: one using only x and y, the other using a wider range of variables. The problems were identical in all other respects. Since the population to be tested included first-year students, none of the problems was calculus-based. One of the questions did not use any variable at all. This was included as a control question. The quiz was given to one hundred twenty-four students in first, second, and third year courses at Georgia Southern University. The sample population is a mix of Engineering and Engineering Technology majors, including native and transfer students. Students in several classes were given the quiz with the two versions randomly distributed within each class. Students taking the xy version of the quiz scored significantly higher than students taking the mixed-variable quiz. Students with higher class rankings (juniors and seniors) showed a lower difference between the quiz versions than did students classified as freshmen / sophomores. Classification of students’ rankings was based on individual mathematics course histories as reported by the students. This paper presents the detailed results of the study, along with suggestions for further research into this topic. These results may be useful in indicating areas where review is needed.

KW - Effects

KW - Variable Mix

KW - Student mathematics performance

UR - https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/mech-eng-facpubs/222

UR - https://peer.asee.org/effects-of-variable-mix-on-student-mathematics-performance

M3 - Article

JO - Proceedings of the 2004 ASEE Annual Meeting and Conference

JF - Proceedings of the 2004 ASEE Annual Meeting and Conference

ER -