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Minimal Impact of Organic Chemistry Prerequisite Essay

The authors investigated whether the assumption that the successful completion of prerequisite courses has positive impact on student performance on courses that require the prerequisite. Specifically, Wright, Cotner and Winkel investigated the impact of completing Organic Chemistry course which is a prerequisite course in some curriculum for Introductory Chemistry course to student performance on the latter course. The investigators obtained their data from the University of Minnesota Data Warehouse for performance and characteristics of students enrolled in Biochemistry 3021 (Bioc 3021) from fall of 2003 to summer of 2006.

Repeating students were excluded in their investigation while student grades in Bioc 3021, General Chemistry 1 and 2, and Organic Chemistry 1 (Chem 2301) were included in the analysis. The investigators analyzed students entering as freshmen separately from transfer students. The authors explained that “Bioc 3021 is an introductory biochemistry course for non-biochemistry majors” with prerequisites of one semester of introductory biology, two semesters of introductory chemistry with laboratory and one semester of organic chemistry lecture (Wright et.

al. , 2009, 46). Note that majority of the students taking up Bioc 3021 are not from the University’s College of Biological Science, who are required to take the course except for biochemistry majors who have a different course to take. 69 percent of student analyzed were from other colleges, with 19 percent coming from the College of Continuing Education and were “likely to be taking the course in preparation for application to health-related professional schools” (Wright et. al. , 2009, 46).

It is also important to note that during the inclusive dates of analysis, the prerequisite were not strictly enforced, allowing students to register into any course whether or not they have successfully completed its prerequisites. The authors also reported that the grades in Bioc 3021 of students who completed Chem 2301 was only 0. 07 points higher than those who did not. The analysis included all students who took Bioc 3021 for the first time and including those who took Chem 2301 regardless of the grade obtained.

This implies that the average grades that the students earned in Bioc 3021 are similar regardless of whether they have completed the prerequisite course Chem 2301. Concerning the GPA of students who took the Bioc 3021, those who have completed the organic chemistry prerequisite had an average GPA of 2. 92 while those who did not had an average of 3. 18—significantly lower than those who had completed the prerequisite.

Furthermore, the authors explained that none of the students who had successfully completed the organic chemistry prerequisite before taking Bioc 3021 had an a cumulative GPA of zero while there were 47 out of 815 students who had not taken the prerequisite course had cumulative GPA of zero. However, the data revealed that the student who had acquired a cumulative GPA of zero had no earned credits at the University of Minnesota prior to taking Bioc 3021 implying that they were new students who probably “globally failed, withdrew, or stopped attending all of their classes” in some other university.

Wright et al. (2009) explained that if these students were excluded in their analysis, the average cumulative GPA of students who had not completed the Chem 2301 prerequisite prior to taking Bioc 2301 would be 2. 817—surprisingly higher than those who had completed the prerequisite. In summary, the study concluded that “no improvement in performance in Bioc 3021 could be attributed to completion of the organic chemistry prerequisite” (Wright et. al. , 2009, 48)

On the other hand, the data that the investigators have gathered revealed that students who had not completed the organic chemistry were more likely to withdraw from the Introductory Biochemistry course than those who had completed the prerequisite—with 10. 7 and 4. 8 percent mortality rate respectively. Their data also revealed that the completion of the prerequisite may have more value for transfer students than from students admitted from high school of the University of Minnesota. Section 4

This article is related directly to the course of Introductory Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry—a course included in some curriculum as a prerequisite to the former. Section 5 The investigators have only evaluated the impact of the Organic Chemistry prerequisite to student performance in Introductory Biochemistry in the University of Minnesota. While their data revealed minimal impact, the results were insufficient to generally claim that student performances in Introductory Biochemistry do not directly correlate to completing prerequisite courses or not.

Similar investigations could be performed in other universities that could reinforce or refute the conclusions made by the investigators. Article may be downloaded from http://www. lifescied. org/cgi/reprint/8/1/44? maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=biochemistry&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT Reference Wright, R. , Cotner, S. , and Winkel, A. (2009). Minimal Impact of Organic Chemistry Prerequisite on Student Performance in Introductory Biochemistry. CBE Life Science Education, 8, 44-54.


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