Honors College Thesis


Chemistry and Grit: The Impact of Prerequisites vs Perseverance on Academic Success in Biology Public Deposited

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  • Previous research on academic success in biology has focused on the influence of prerequisite knowledge and cognitive ability as measured by course grades or GPA. More recently, the field has considered the influence of non-cognitive factors such as grit, defined as passion and perseverance for long term goals. Both grit and prerequisite courses in chemistry have been shown to have positive effects on the academic success of students. This quantitative study investigates the relative impact of a student’s grit and exposure to chemistry on academic success in the second quarter of a three-quarter series Principles of Biology, which focuses on biochemical concepts, for students majoring in a life science degree program. Student exam and course grade data were collected to carry out a multiple linear regression analysis, in addition to measurements of the independent variables grit score, chemistry exposure, and gender. In students with a GPA in the 3.7 to 4.0 range, grit was found to be the most significant predictor of student success. For students with a GPA of 3.69 and lower, higher academic success in the course and on the exam correlates with previous exposure to chemistry. This shows that in students that display patterns of high academic achievement with a GPA of 3.7 to 4.0, grit could be an explanatory variable for the difference in achievement, while for all other GPA groups (0.7 to 2.69, 2.7 to 3.69), exposure to chemistry is likely explanatory for the variance in success within those groups. Findings suggest that requiring pre-requisite chemistry coursework or providing chemistry resources in Principles of Biology could be beneficial to the majority of students’ success in the course, while it is still not entirely clear if grit is suitable as direct solution to increase student success.
  • Key Words: grit, non-cognitive skills, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, academic success, academic achievement, prerequisite requirements, corequisite requirements.
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