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Do advanced mathematics skills predict success in biology and chemistry degrees?

Adkins, Michael; Noyes, Andrew

Authors

Michael Adkins michael.adkins@nottingham.ac.uk

Andrew Noyes andrew.noyes@nottingham.ac.uk



Abstract

The mathematical preparedness of science undergraduates has been a subject of debate for some time. This paper investigates the relationship between school mathematics attainment and degree outcomes in biology and chemistry across England, a much larger scale of analysis than has hitherto been reported in the literature. A unique dataset which links the National Pupil Database for England (NPD) and Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data is used to track the educational trajectories of a national cohort of 16-year-olds through their school and degree programmes. Multilevel regression models indicate that students who completed advanced mathematics qualifications prior to their university study of biology and chemistry were no more likely to attain the best degree outcomes than those without advanced mathematics. The models do, however, suggest that success in advanced chemistry at school predicts outcomes in undergraduate biology and vice versa. There are important social background differences and the impact of the university attended is considerable. We discuss a range of possible explanations of these findings.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education
Print ISSN 1571-0068
Electronic ISSN 1573-1774
Publisher Humana Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 3
APA6 Citation Adkins, M., & Noyes, A. (in press). Do advanced mathematics skills predict success in biology and chemistry degrees?. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 16(3), doi:10.1007/s10763-016-9794-y
DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s10763-016-9794-y
Keywords Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Degree outcomes, Multilevel modelling
Publisher URL http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10763-016-9794-y
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf
Additional Information The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10763-016-9794-y.

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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