Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ouch, Ouch, Ouch

Just got the spreadsheet with all the final exam scores of every student in College Algebra. Several non-zero scores in the single digits.

I was going to make a histogram in MS Excel, but just recently I got the MS Excel 2008 which seems to be lacking in every feature that I would want to use. After briefly wondering if I could solve my data analysis problems with a database (you can buy me FileMaker Pro for my birthday), I taught myself how to make a histogram with R. Command line ftw.

Passing is 60. Median was 66 and mean was 63-point-something. And when I say "passing is 60," what I mean is that if you don't score a 60 on the final, then you can't pass the course. (This is not a hard exam. Trust me on this.)

If you can't pass this course, then you can't move on to Calculus Lite (or precalc). You can't major in business or nursing or engineering or anything else with a meaningful quantitative requirement. If you can't pass this course, then your math options are limited. You'll probably end up taking both of gen-ed math or basic stats. (Or one of them and gen-ed computers.)

This is the course that gets us called into meetings about success rates. Three of the six most-failed lower-division courses on campus are in the math department, and this is one of them.