MATHEMATICS AND ACADEMIC SUCCESS IN THREE DISCIPLINES: ENGINEERING, BUSINESS AND THE HUMANITIES by ProQuest

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     MATHEMATICS AND ACADEMIC SUCCESS
             IN THREE DISCIPLINES:
   ENGINEERING, BUSINESS AND THE HUMANITIES
                        B. Brian Lee, Prairie View A&M University
                        Jungsun Lee, Prairie View A&M University


                                                ABSTRACT

         This study investigates the correlation between average grades in mathematics courses and academic
success at college using students in three disciplines: engineering, business, and the humanities. Since the
need for mathematical skills and knowledge varies from discipline to discipline, the paper expects that the
relevance of mathematical skills and knowledge is limited to only those disciplines that require quantitative
skills such as engineering and business. The empirical results of this study show that grades in mathematics
courses are positively associated with the academic success of students in engineering and business, while
such a positive association is not observed for students in the humanities.

                                             INTRODUCTION

          Mathematics has always been considered as one of the essential skills that students need to
successfully complete a college education. Prior studies investigating the influence of mathematical
knowledge and skills on academic performance have therefore focused primarily on students in quantitative
subjects (Smith and Schumacher 2005). Such studies reveal a positive correlation between mathematical
knowledge and academic success. However, high achievement in mathematics could simply represent one
dimension of a student’s overall intellectual capacity, as students who do well in one subject can easily excel
in other fields. Thus, the relationship between achievement in mathematics and academic success may not
be a causal one, but may be determined by other factors, such as the student’s general academic commitment.
         Accordingly, this study aims to investigate the association between grades in mathematics courses
and the academic performance of students in different disciplines –engineering, business, and the humanities
– in which the requirement of mathematical knowledge and skills varies. Engineering students need a strong
mathematical background to succeed in the fields of their major, which are mostly quantitative; thus,
mathematical skills and knowledge are a critical factor in the success of engineering students. Business
subjects deal with both quantitative and qualitative topics, depending upon specialization. For example,
management courses contain mostly qualitative subjects, while finance or accounting courses require
quantitative skills to deal with business problems. Thus, most business programs require students to complete
multiple mathematics courses including a statistics course. In general, however, business s
								
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