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Freshman Academic Preparation Analyses

In the spring of 1999, PBA was asked by Elizabeth Guertin, Director of Advising and Assistant Dean in Arts and Sciences, to attempt to estimate difficulty levels for courses typically taken by freshmen. This information could potentially be useful in advising; for example, a student who was planning to take several extremely difficult courses in one semester might be counseled to consider spreading them out a bit, or could at least be forewarned about what to expect.

The product we ultimately produced was a form tailored to each student, listing nearly 100 courses commonly taken by freshmen and their anticipated difficulty for that student, based on the student's high school GPA, SAT or ACT scores, and high school preparation. Unfortunately, for various reasons Arts and Sciences decided not to use the forms in either 1999 or 2000; however, after some minor changes, including a change in name from Course Difficulty Profile to Academic Preparation Analysis, as well as training/informational sessions for the advisors by Dr. Guertin and by PBA, the forms were incorporated into the advising process for Fall 2001 freshmen. Here is a sample of the revamped form:


Student Name: BUFFALO, RALPHIE    xxx-xx-0861  College: AS  Major: EPOB      Academic Preparation Analysis

HSGPA:  2.86    SAT-V:  470     SAT-M:  490        ACT-E: na   ACT-M: na  ACT-R: na  ACT-SR: na
HS Credits:  Chem: 1.0   Physics: 0.0   Geog: 0.0   Foreign Lang: 3.0   Spanish: 3.0   French: 0.0

The following codes are used to indicate the level of preparation that students with academic backgrounds
similar to yours found that they had in relation to each of the courses listed below when they took these
courses in their first term at CU. You should discuss these ratings with your advisor before deciding on 
a schedule for your first term. These are courses that many freshmen take.  However, you may not meet 
prerequisites for all courses listed.

"S" = Standard college course for students with academic backgrounds similar to yours
"M" = Moderately challenging course for students with academic backgrounds similar to yours
"X" = eXtremely challenging course for students with academic backgrounds similar to yours

  COURSE        PREPARATION        COURSE        PREPARATION      COURSE        PREPARATION
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
AMST 2000       S                ENVD 1002       S               MATH 1010                X
AMST 2010       S                ENVD 1014       S               MATH 1050           M     
ANTH 2010                 X      ENVD 2003            M          MATH 1060           M     
APPM 1350                 X      ENVS 1000                 X     MATH 1070                X
APPM 1360                 X      EPOB 1030                 X     MATH 1150                X
APPM 2350                 X      EPOB 1050                 X     MATH 1300                X
ARSC 1080       S                EPOB 1210                 X     MCDB 1150                X
ASTR 1010            M           EPOB 1230                 X     MCDB 1151           M 
ASTR 1110                 X      EPOB 2050                 X     MUSC 1101                 X
ASTR 1120                 X      FILM 1502            M          MUSC 1121                 X
ATOC 1050                 X      FINE 1309            M          MUSC 1802            M
BCOR 1000       S                FREN 1010                 X     PHIL 1000            M
BCOR 1100       S                GEEN 1300                 X     PHIL 1010                 X
CHEM 1021                 X      GEEN 1400       S               PHIL 1100            M
CHEM 1111                 X      GEEN 1500       S               PHIL 1200            M
CHEM 1211                 X      GEOG 1001                 X     PHIL 1600       S
CHEN 1221                 X      GEOG 1982                X      PHYS 1010                 X
CLAS 1100                 X      GEOG 1992           M           PHYS 1110                 X
COMM 1300            M           GEOG 2002                X      PSCI 1101                 X
COMM 1600            M           GEOG 2412           M           PSCI 2223                 X
CSCI 1300                 X      GEOL 1010                X      PSYC 1001                 X
CSCI 2830            M           GEOL 1060                X      QRMS 1010***         M
ECEN 1000       S                GEOL 1080      S                SEWL 2020       S
ECON 1000                 X      HIST 1010                X      SOCY 1001                 X
ECON 1078                 X      HIST 1015           M           SOCY 1003            M
ECON 2010                 X      HIST 1020           M           SOCY 1004            M
ECON 2020                 X      HIST 1025           M           SOCY 1016****        M
EMUS 1832            M           HUMN 1010           M           SPAN 1010            M
ENGL 1001       S                JOUR 1001           M           SPAN 1020                 X
ENGL 1191       S                KAPH 1010                X      SPAN 2110            M
ENGL 1260*      S                LING 1000      S                SPAN 2120                 X
ENGL 1500       S                MATH 1000                X      THTR 1009            M
ENGL 1600                 X      MATH 1001           M           UWRP 1150                 X
ENGL 1800**     S                

* Also listed as WMST 1260
** Also listed as ETHN 1800
*** Also listed as MATH 1012
**** Also listed as WMST 1016

In the process of producing the analyses for individual students, we also generated some summary data that we feel is interesting in its own right, and that is presented in this document.

The method for producing the analyses was as follows: We chose the 100 courses with the highest graded enrollments of first-semester freshmen, combined across the fall semesters of 1998, 1999, and 2000, and not including pass-fail and PLC courses. Then, for 13,819 freshmen entering in those three falls, we assembled the following potential statistical predictors of grades in the 100 courses:

  • High school cumulative GPA
  • SAT Verbal and Math scores
  • ACT English, Math, Science Reasoning, and Reading scores
  • Total high school credits in math, English, natural sciences, social sciences, and foreign languages. We also, for certain subject areas, used high school credits in that particular subject area as a predictor (e.g., chemistry credits for chemistry courses).

The potential predictors were then entered into a regression procedure in order to derive arithmetic weights for each predictor in relating to grades in each course. The mathematical models thus derived from the performance of 1998-2000 freshmen were then used to predict grades in each course for each incoming 2001 freshman, with each course assigned a challenge rating of "standard," "moderate," or "extreme," for each student based on this predicted grade. A course's challenge is considered to be "standard" for a particular student if the model predicts the student has a 70% chance or better of earning at least a C in the course; a "moderate" if the model predicts a 50-69% chance of a C or better, and "extreme" if the model predicts a less than 50% chance of a C or better.

Overall, for the average entering freshman 72% of courses were rated Standard difficulty (ranging as low as 3% for some students, as high as 100% for others), 16% were rated Moderate (range 0% to 49%), and 12% were rated Extreme (range 0% to 97%).

The table below shows, for 5,548 prospective freshmen who had confirmed enrollment as of June 11, 2000 (not all of whom will actually show up), the percentage for whom each course was rated Standard, Moderate, and Extreme. For example, Anthropology 2010 was rated Standard for 71% of incoming freshmen Moderate for 23%, and Extreme for 7% (sums do not always equal 100% due to rounding).

COURSE % of S ratings % of M ratings % of X ratings
AMST2000 99 0 1
AMST2010 99 0 1
ANTH2010 71 23 7
APPM1350 15 19 66
APPM1360 9 19 71
APPM2350 36 18 45
ARSC1080 54 44 2
ASTR1010 89 9 2
ASTR1110 70 23 6
ASTR1120 75 20 5
ATOC1050 80 16 4
BCOR1000 98 0 1
BCOR1100 99 0 1
CHEM1021 38 36 26
CHEM1111 23 22 55
CHEM1211 15 19 66
CHEN1221 4 13 83
CLAS1100 67 25 9
COMM1300 91 7 2
COMM1600 91 7 2
CSCI1300 20 35 45
CSCI2830 92 7 1
ECEN1000 99 0 1
ECON1000 67 26 6
ECON1078 78 18 4
ECON2010 62 30 8
ECON2020 68 25 6
EMUS1832 87 11 2
ENGL1001 98 1 1
ENGL1191 99 0 1
ENGL1260 98 1 1
ENGL1500 100 0 0
ENGL1600 84 13 3
ENGL1800 96 3 1
ENVD1002 100 0 0
ENVD1014 99 0 1
ENVD2003 96 3 1
ENVS1000 77 17 6
EPOB1030 54 35 11
EPOB1050 48 31 21
EPOB1210 43 31 26
EPOB1230 54 26 20
EPOB2050 51 25 24
FILM1502 89 9 2
FINE1309 89 9 2
FREN1010 54 33 14
GEEN1300 43 37 20
GEEN1400 99 0 1
GEEN1500 99 0 1
GEOG1001 74 23 4
GEOG1982 70 25 5
GEOG1992 83 15 2
GEOG2002 69 23 8
GEOG2412 93 6 1
GEOL1010 83 14 3
GEOL1060 81 14 6
GEOL1080 97 1 1
HIST1010 79 18 3
HIST1015 92 7 1
HIST1020 82 16 3
HIST1025 96 3 1
HUMN1010 92 7 2
JOUR1001 93 5 2
KAPH1010 56 24 20
LING1000 96 3 1
MATH1000 11 24 65
MATH1001 83 14 3
MATH1010 3 21 76
MATH1050 77 19 4
MATH1060 64 32 4
MATH1070 18 47 35
MATH1150 44 36 20
MATH1300 33 30 38
MCDB1150 30 27 43
MCDB1151 88 10 2
MUSC1101 67 21 12
MUSC1121 76 18 6
MUSC1802 78 16 6
PHIL1000 87 12 2
PHIL1010 83 14 3
PHIL1100 91 7 1
PHIL1200 96 3 1
PHIL1600 96 2 1
PHYS1010 54 33 13
PHYS1110 20 20 60
PSCI1101 80 17 3
PSCI2223 76 19 4
PSYC1001 82 14 4
QRMS1010 86 12 2
SEWL2020 100 0 0
SOCY1001 71 23 6
SOCY1003 92 6 2
SOCY1004 93 5 2
SOCY1016 89 10 1
SPAN1010 80 15 6
SPAN1020 58 22 20
SPAN2110 78 18 3
SPAN2120 61 26 13
THTR1009 97 2 1
UWRP1150 57 35 8

Acknowledgments:

Our approach to this project drew heavily on similar work done earlier at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and described in: Eno, D., Brozovsky, P., & McLaughlin, G. (1997). Predicting freshman success based on high school record and other measures (IRPA Vol. 96-97, No. 51). Blacksburg: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Institutional Research and Planning Analysis.

Thanks to Anna C. Karplus for doing most of the SAS programming and data analysis in the early stages of this project.


PBA: PS - w:pba\records\crsdiff.htm

Last revision 09/10/04


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