Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mathematical Sciences (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mathematical Sciences

Advisor 1

Shari Stockero

Advisor 2

Yeonwoo Rho

Committee Member 1

Todd King


In Fall 2014, Michigan Technological University (MTU) began using an online mathematics placement test provided by ALEKS Corporation. This study answers three questions that accompanied this implementation: (1) Do the cut scores being used for Precalculus and Calculus I result in the expected pass rates for those courses?, (2) Does the path by which a student becomes eligible for Calculus I – via a single placement test attempt, via multiple placement test attempts, or by beginning in Precalculus at MTU – influence their likelihood of success in Calculus I?, and (3) Does a mathematical background weak in any particular curriculum area correlate with a lower chance of success in Calculus I? ALEKS placement test scores, Calculus I exam scores, and Precalculus and Calculus I final grade data from students who took the ALEKS placement test during the 2015 testing cycle were examined. A conditional probability analysis indicated that the current cut scores result in a probability of a C grade or better of at least 0.64 in each course examined. Tabulation of DFW rates showed that students right at the cut score threshold have higher DFW rates than the overall rate for the course. Odds ratios revealed that students who placed into Calculus I on their first testing attempt were the most likely to receive a final grade of C or better. ALEKS subscore data indicated that most incoming students exhibited knowledge gaps in trigonometry. Logistic regression showed that a 1% increase in trigonometry subscore increased the odds of earning a C or better in Calculus I by 3%.