Mathematics, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in International Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education 4 (2018), pp 376–392.

doi 10.1007/s40753-018-0075-8


Copyright © 2018 Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature. Used by permission


The purpose of this study was to investigate implementation of an early intervention mastery activity during the first two weeks of college algebra and precalculus courses at a large U.S. public university. Statistical modeling of (N = 935) students’ performance in the courses, including a logistic regression model of pass/fail course achievement with students’ high school rank, ACT Mathematics scores, and performance on the intervention as explanatory variables, suggested significant independent differences in course performance across performance levels on the early mastery activity. An evaluation of diagnostic validity for the model yielded a 19% false negative rate (predicted to fail the course, but passed) and a 7% false positive rate (students predicted to pass the course, but failed), suggesting the early mastery activity, when combined with admissions indicators of mathematics readiness, may be useful in better identifying students at risk of failing their first university mathematics course. This strategy, which also yields information for focused intervention efforts, is currently being explored through a campus-wide advising tool at the research site.