Friday, November 21, 2014

Diagnosing and treating students at risk of doing badly in logic: a request.

My friend Tony Laden, who is chair at University of Illinois, Chicago, requested that I pass on the request below. It's something that I imagine most Philosophy departments have to deal with, and I hope some have useful resources: if so, this would be a good place to provide them. Here's the request:

Our department is looking for ways to help the large number of our students who struggle every term in introductory logic (failing to receive a C or better, and thus failing to satisfy the College’s quantitative reasoning requirement).  We have secured funding for an extra TA line to run extra classes or study sections etc for students who are at risk of not passing. The questions that now face us are (a) how to select the at-risk students, and (b) exactly how best the TA can help them. ACT and scores on the University’s math placement test are rather imperfect predictors of success in logic. Does anyone know of a good diagnostic test we could give students in the first week or so that is predictive of logic success? Similarly, does anyone have tested ideas on what kind of small group interventions are most effective with students struggling with logic and how to get those students to make use of that help? (Obviously we have some ideas based on our individual experiences, but would be particularly grateful for any rigorous or systematic studies or clearly successful past interventions.)


  1. Take a look at the data in the teacher's manual that correspond's to gensler's text and software:

  2. You may be interested in a small study my colleague and I did on students' performance in a logic class. It is published in the most recent APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy.

    You may also be interested in using the Academic Self-Efficacy Scale to predict students at risk in logic. We found that homework and attendance were predictors of success (big surprise!) and that students' reported frustration was negatively correlated with academic performance. I am interested in looking more closely at types of homework that can improve student performance in logic (preparatory vs. practice; collaborative vs. independent).

    Renee Smith
    Coastal Carolina University


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