Examining the Impact of Class Difficulty on Transition and Success in College
Author(s): Blake, T., Majumder, S., Deal, J., Hendryx, M., & Conrad, K.
Citation: Blake, T., Majumder, S., Deal, J., Hendryx, M., & Conrad, K. (2018). Examining the Impact of Class Difficulty on Transition and Success in College. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 30(1), 71-86.
This study examines the impact of class difficulty on first-semester GPA, controlling for a number of precollege factors and the course load taken in the first semester. Although a large body of literature exists on the determinants of academic performance, class difficulty is often neglected in the literature. For this study, we created a new measure of class difficulty and included that in a regression model to explain student GPA across semesters as the student matriculates through college. We found that students who take more difficult classes tend to have lower GPAs in the first semester but higher GPAs during their second year of study. It is our contention that more difficult first-semester classes better prepare students for subsequently harder classes in their progress toward graduation.