The present study examined whether undergraduate students’ academic success in math general education courses differed between synchronous online (during the Covid-19 pandemic) and in-person (before the pandemic). It also examined the extent to which students’ initial performance might predict academic success (as measured by final class grades) in online and in-person math courses, under the assumption that academic success for at-risk students relies on early identification and remedial action. The study was motivated by two key beliefs: First, a basic feature of a quality education is its ability to preserve standards amid unexpected, potentially disruptive events. Second, computational competency is a pillar of a quality education, which shapes enduring success in a multitude of professional fields. Two general education math courses (i.e., calculus and statistics), which had been taught by the same instructor, were selected for examination. In our study, we found no evidence that the switch to the online synchronous modality had impaired learning. However, initial test and homework performance were not equally predictive of academic success in the selected math courses. Namely, both test and homework performance during the first half of the semester predicted academic success in online courses, whereas only test performance predicted academic success within in-person courses. These findings imply that the quality of math education can be preserved in times of crisis. However, math attainment for at-risk students may be aided by instructors’ consideration of the differential predictive value of test and homework performance in each instructional modality.
Hanadi AbdelSalam, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia
Maura Pilotti, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia
Omar El-Moussa, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Saudi Arabia