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ERIC Number: EJ1074362
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Sep
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Impact of General Chemistry on Student Achievement and Progression to Subsequent Chemistry Courses: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis
Shultz, Ginger V.; Gottfried, Amy C.; Winschel, Grace A.
Journal of Chemical Education, v92 n9 p1449-1455 Sep 2015
General chemistry is a gateway course that impacts the STEM trajectory of tens of thousands of students each year, and its role in the introductory curriculum as well as its pedagogical design are the center of an ongoing debate. To investigate the role of general chemistry in the curriculum, we report the results of a posthoc analysis of 10 years of archived student data (ca. 12,000 students) aimed at discovering whether taking college-level general chemistry has an impact on student performance in and progression to subsequent chemistry courses. We introduce regression discontinuity; a quasi-experimental method that originated in educational psychology and can be used to estimate causal impacts of educational treatment when ex ante randomization is not feasible. Using regression discontinuity, we estimated a positive impact of prior general chemistry coursework of about one-fourth of a letter grade in two subsequent courses, Organic Chemistry I and a physical general chemistry course for nonmajors. We also found that taking general chemistry had no impact on the likelihood that students will progress to the final course in the nonmajors sequence.
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Michigan
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A