Does Freshman Statistics Matter?

We asked the following question: how do students who complete the standard freshman course Introduction to Statistics (Math 140) perform in subsequent upper levelĀ  Research Methods courses. Normally students are expected to complete the elementary stats course prior to taking the upper level course, but not all students do. We examined all students who completed upper level research method classes in Sociology (SOC 364), Psychology (SOC 364) or Biology (BIO 330) as well as Basic Business Management Statistics (SOM 120).

For each of the four courses (Sociology, Psychology, Biology, or Management) we considered three different populations:

  • Students who took Math 140 prior to taking the more advance course
  • Students who received transfer credit for Math 140 from another institution (usually a community college) prior to taking the more advanced course
  • Students who did not take Math 140 at all

Box plots showing the median and quartiles, as well as error plots showing the mean and standard deviation, of the grades in the advanced courses, are shown below.

The small numbers under each box plot are the size of the data set, which is a census of all students in the corresponding population from 2006 through 2014.

The data would raise the question as to whether Math 140 helps or hinders students subsequently taking these course; further analysis would be required to make any sort of conclusive decision.