# Calculus and success in a business school

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1 Calculus and success in a business school Dong-gook Kim Dalton State College Fernando Garcia, MBA Dalton State College Ishita Dey University of Georgia ABSTRACT Many business schools or colleges require calculus as a prerequisite for certain classes or for continuing to upper division courses. While there are many studies investigating the relationship between performance in calculus and performance in a single course, such as economics, statistics, and finance, there are very few studies investigating the relationship between calculus and performance in upper division as a whole. In this paper, a general linear model was used to assess this less studied relationship. The findings suggest a positive relationship between calculus and upper division performance and gender differences in the relationship between the number of tries to pass calculus and upper division performance. Keywords: calculus, gender, performance, calculus, ANCOVA, GLM Copyright statement: Authors retain the copyright to the manuscripts published in AABRI journals. Please see the AABRI Copyright Policy at Calculus and success, page 1

4 highest grade was used in calculating UDGPA. The mean UDGPA was 3.275, and the standard deviation was The minimum was 2.2; the maximum was The authors anticipated that there would be interaction effects between gender and CAL and between gender and ATT (Figure 1). This means that the relationship between the performance in calculus (measured by CAL and ATT) and the upper division GPA would be different for male and female students. There are studies that suggest female students do worse than their male counterparts in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines (e.g., Coley, 2001; Kahl, Fleming, & Malone, 1982; Zerega, Haertel, Tsai, & Walberg, 1986). Specifically the model is UDGPA = β 0 + β 1 HGPA + β 2 Age + β 3 Gender + β 4 CAL + β 5 ATT + β 6 CAL Gender + β 7 ATT Gender + ε. A general linear model (GLM) was run to test the model using SPSS ver. 19. Analysis First, gender differences for UDGPA, CAL, and ATT were checked. The results are shown in Table 1. None of the independent and dependent variables were significantly different between male and female students. The results from GLM analysis are shown in Table 2. Both covariates, age and high school GPA, were significant and positively related to the upper division GPA (based on the estimated slopes for each of the covariates). That is, the older students were, the better they did in upper division; the better they had done in high school, the better they did in upper division. The main effect of calculus grade (Calfinalgrade in Table 2) was significant (p <.000), but the interaction effect between calculus and gender (GENDER Calfinalgrade) was not. Therefore, it is concluded that there was no significant difference between male and female students concerning the relationship between calculus and upper division performance. The pattern shown in Figure 2 also suggests the same conclusion; no gender difference in the effect of calculus on upper division performance. The pattern indicates that there is a positive relationship between a letter grade and upper division GPA, that is, the better the calculus grade the higher upper division GPA regardless of their gender. Controlling for the two covariates, the mean upper division GPA's of students who earned an A, B, and C in MATH 2181 were calculated separately. Since the interaction between gender and calculus was insignificant, male and female students were combined to calculate these means. An estimated marginal mean of upper division GPA of students who earned an A was 3.492; who earned a B was 3.289; and who earned a C was Pairwise comparisons revealed that the mean upper division GPA of students who earned an A in calculus was significantly greater than that of students who earned a B (difference = 0.203; p <.01). In turn, the mean upper division GPA of students who earned a B was significantly greater than that of students who earned a C (difference = 0.164; p <.01). Also, the mean upper division GPA of students who earned an A and that of students who earned a C were significantly different (difference = 0.367; p <.01). The other two-way interaction effect, GENDER ATT, was significant. According to Figure 3, not being able to pass MATH 2181 in the first attempt seemed to be detrimental to the upper division performance of female students. That is, the mean upper division GPA of female Calculus and success, page 4

7 Kahl, S. R., Fleming, M. L., & Malone, M. R. (1982). Sex-Related Differences in Pre-College Science: Findings of the Science Meta-Analysis Project. Presented at the The meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, NY. Retrieved from Pritchard, R. E., Romeo, G. C., & Saccucci, M. S. (2000). Quantitative Skills and Performance in Principles of Finance: Evidence from a Regional University. Financial Practice and Education, 10, Rochelle, C. F., & Dotterweich, D. (2007). Student success in business statistics. Journal of Economics and Finance Education, 6(1), Von Allmen, P. (1996). The effect of quantitative prerequisites on performance in intermediate microeconomics. Journal of Education for Business, 72(1), 18. Zerega, M. E., Haertel, G. D., Tsai, S., & Walberg, H. J. (1986). Late adolescent sex differences in science learning. Science Education, 70(4), doi: /sce APPENDIX Figure 1. Research model used in the paper Calculus letter grade (CAL) Attempts to pass (ATT) Gender Upper division GPA (UDGPA) Table 1. Descriptive statistics of key variables Female Male Significance UDGPA NS (t=-1.298, df=203, p=.196) CAL NS (t=-0.489, df=203, p=.625) ATT Single 67 (count) 75 Multiple NS (χ 2 =0.8, df=1, p=.370) Calculus and success, page 7

8 Table 2. Analysis output Figure 2. Interaction between calculus and gender on upper division GPA Calculus and success, page 8

9 Figure 3. Interaction between attempts and gender on upper division GPA Calculus and success, page 9

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