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Keywords:

  • freshman engineering;
  • longitudinal study;
  • mathematics readiness

Abstract

A review of prerequisites often reveals that reasons for requiring a prerequisite may no longer prevail due to curriculum or course changes. Based on a study of a curriculum bottleneck unrelated to required mastery, the prerequisite structure in Clemson University's General Engineering curriculum (the common first-year curriculum for all engineering students) was changed so that Calculus I could be taken in the second semester. Student record analysis shows both the magnitude of the bottleneck prior to the policy change and the effect on student enrollment practices after the policy change. Longitudinal studies show a statistically significant improvement in retention in engineering adding to the body of evidence that indicates that it is important to retention that students start college mathematics at a level for which they are prepared.