The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Correlates of success in science classes


Math/Science, Kirkwood Community College

March 28, 2015 , Archview Ballroom Add to calendar

Student success, from the perspective of the college or university, is often measured by overall retention and completion rates, as well as cumulative grade point average. Contributing to these broad measures are the completion rates and letter grades of students in individual courses. By looking at correlates of student success in individual courses, we instructors may be able to improve student success whilst identifying broad strategies for success, and thus improve overall retention and completion rates. Here I present results from a systematic study of aspects of student behavior and identify how these relate to student success, as measured by individual exam and course grades. Two types of courses were investigated: two nursing program prerequisites, Human Anatomy and Physiology I with Lab, and Nutrition, and one general education science course, Human Evolution, all taught at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Correlates of success included both overall attendance and attendance during the first two weeks of the semester, class meeting-time format (i.e., Tuesday/Thursday versus Monday/Wednesday/Friday), and the time it takes students to complete lecture exams. Results such as these allow us to compare student-based (e.g., attendance) and infrastructural (e.g., course scheduling) correlates of success across institutions and programs, and have the potential to improve student habits, inform course scheduling, and reduce student test-taking anxiety. These results are especially interesting in light of the current higher education climate emphasizing student assessment, institutional measures of effectiveness, and data-driven reform to improve student educational opportunities.