The University of Montana
Department of Mathematical Sciences

Technical report #15/2011

The Preparation of Students for Intense College Mathematics Coursework

Michael Harwell, Amanuel Medhanie, Thomas R. Post
University of Minnesota

Ke Wu Norman
University of Montana

Daniele Dupuis
University of Montana


Longitudinal data were used to explore the criticism that National Science Foundation-funded (Core-Plus) mathematics curricula do not adequately prepare college bound high school students for intense college mathematics coursework. The college mathematics achievement and coursetaking of students who completed a commercially developed or Core-Plus curriculum, and who completed a minimum of two college mathematics courses of difficulty level at or beyond precalculus mathematics, was examined. The results suggested that students (including STEM majors) were equally prepared for intense college mathematics coursework regardless of the high school mathematics curriculum they completed. These findings inform high school mathematics curriculum adoption decisions for college bound students, and college policies and practices for advising students enrolling in mathematics courses.

Keywords: Mathematics Education, Curriculum, Achievement, Secondary Education, Post Secondary Education

AMS Subject Classification: 97

Paper was accepted and will appear in The Journal of Experimental Education