In the USA for the most part, completion of a first-semester general chemistry (Chem I) course lays the foundation deemed necessary for understanding second-semester general chemistry (Chem II) topics. Successful completion of Chem I and II gives students permission to progress to organic chemistry I (O-Chem). A series of studies undertaken by the NSA (Networking for Science Advancement) Texas team began in 2016. Texas is one of five majority-minority states in the USA and hosts a significant Hispanic population. The purpose of this research line is to evaluate the influence of basic arithmetic automaticity (what students can do without a calculator) skills needed to succeed in lower-level chemistry. Over 9,000 students from nine universities have contributed to this research. Results suggest a strong correlation between procedural arithmetic preparation, automaticity, and student performance in Chem I, II, and O-Chem courses. The NSA collaborative uses the Math-Up Skills Test (MUST) as an assessment instrument along with student demographics to identify at-risk students from these contributing populations at the beginning of a course with high reliability (KR-20 = 0.863) and effect size (Cohen's d ≥ 1.20). The hand-graded MUST requires only 15 minutes of class time to administer and combined with specific demographic categories consistently predicts students’ success rate in lower-level chemistry about 80 percent of the time therefore providing adequate time to identify and help at-risk students. This paper is about the evolution of the MUST and how following the NSA team's research line has advanced its use and interpretation.
Mason, Diana and Shelton, G. Robert, "Predictability of the Must (Math-Up Skills Test)" (2023). All Faculty Scholarship. 5.