Do prerequisites really matter?


For some odd reason, most academic departments at WWU do not seem to have a tradition of enforcing prerequisites for most classes. Personally, I feel that this is unfortunate and has lead to the perception on the part of many students that prerequisites really are not important. Here is some evidence.


I always warn students that taking my classes without the prerequisites is not a good idea. Most students heed my warning but some do not. In a recent offering of this class, I had a surprising number of students who lacked the required pre-requisites and chose to ignored my warning. Here is the effect on the final grades in the class:



Five of the eight students who lacked one or more pre-requisites did not earn a passing grade. For all students who lacked one or more pre-requisites, the mean grade was a 69.1%; a D+. In contrast, those who had the pre-requisites complete did quite well and the mean course grade was a 90.6%; an A-. These results come from a single offering of the class. Certainly not all students with the pre-requisites can expect to receive an A or a B. Similarly, it is not impossible for those who lack the pre-requisites to receive a passing grade and even do quite well in the class. Nevertheless, Id argue that these results provide very strong evidence that taking this class before you complete the prerequisites is not in your best interest. You will certainly get much more out of this, or any class, if you have completed the pre-requisites.



Return to ESCI 325 Syllabus


D. Wallin; 9/12/07