Senior Honors Projects, 2020-current

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Middle, Secondary and Mathematics Education


Ann H. Wallace


As a tutor at the Science and Math Learning Center (SMLC) at James Madison University (JMU), I have seen a disconnect between students’ preparation from their high school math classes and their application of particular topics in higher level math classes (i.e. Calculus I). As a future high school math teacher, I wanted to investigate the expectation gap between high school and college math classes. I observed a Calculus I class during the first week of classes to determine the students’ initial struggles. I finally landed on the topic of logarithms and specifically the rules associated with them. I conducted a survey in the same Calculus I class, and collected data on the students’ college and high school math classes and grades, other university math classes and grades, and their current and expected grade in the class. I also presented a problem for them to solve, requiring logarithmic differentiation, to determine their ability to apply a high school math topic in a Calculus I setting. I took the responses from the problem and compared them to the other data collected to see if interesting patterns arose to determine if there was a disconnect between high school math classes and the application of those topics in college math classes. I ultimately focused on the freshmen in the class for my analysis because they are the closest removed from high school. In addition, the majority of the participants from the Calculus I class were freshmen. From my analysis, I observed that many freshmen did well in their Algebra II courses in high school (when logarithms are taught), but most were struggling with applying the rules of logarithms to answer the question on the survey.



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