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Class redesign increases student success in math

Alan Flurry

A significant redesign of two foundational UGA mathematics courses has led to remarkable gains in student success, including an increase from 65% to 85% of students who pass precalculus:

While the DFW (grade of D, grade of F or Withdrawal) rate for students taking precalculus averages 27% nationally, according to the Mathematical Association of America, the DFW rate at UGA has dropped from 35% six years ago to approximately 15% last fall. Similarly, the DFW rate for students taking calculus has dropped from 29% to 21%.

“Increasing the number of students who succeed in passing these math classes opens the door for them to pursue majors and careers in the sciences, business and engineering,” said Rahul Shrivastav, vice president for instruction. “This talent development supports the state of Georgia’s industry and employment needs.”

In 2018, 40% of the student body at UGA had declared a major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, up 20% since 2013.

“About 300 more students are passing precalculus and about another 150 are passing calculus every year,” said Jason Cantarella, professor and associate head of mathematics. About 1,700 students take precalculus and roughly the same number enroll in calculus every year at UGA. “Now 450 more students who pass precalculus or calculus can pursue STEM majors, get into Terry business school, or do not have to repeat a class,” he added.

Good news for UGA students and hands-on innovation in the classroom by our faculty and instructors. Great work all around pointing the direction increase student success rates.

Image: From left, undergraduate students Danny Wang, Sarah-Jane Hanig, Aniyah Norman and Cameron Williams work together in their Calculus I class in the Boyd Graduate Studies Research Center. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

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