In early August, UVU Assistant Professor Russell T. Warne was invited to Harvard University’s School of Science Education to present his research on the benefits of advanced placement classes for high school students.
In his recent study, “The Impact of Participation in the Advanced Placement Program on Students’ College Admissions Test Scores,” published in The Journal of Educational Research, Warne found that AP classes taken by high school students are only constructive for some students.
The study “found strong empirical evidence that participation in AP English and AP calculus courses is not beneficial to students who merely enroll in the course, has some benefits to students who take the AP exam but do not pass it, and is most beneficial to those students who take and pass the exam.”
The research was co-authored by Ross Larsen, of the University of Virginia, and two recent UVU graduates, Braden Anderson and Alyce J. Odasso.
Warne said he enjoyed working with the UVU undergrads as they sorted through data from the 90,000 individuals in the study.
“This was a great training ground for both these students. They got to work firsthand with this data set—analyzing it; making sure that the results makes sense,” Warne said. “It was an overwhelmingly positive experience.”
While presenting at Harvard, Warne met up with professors who have also done research on the benefits of AP classes. According to Warne, the Harvard researchers have interviewed current college students about their experiences in high school.
“Their research is retrospective, mine is prospective,” Warne said. “We each have aspects of data that the other doesn’t.”
His hope for the trip was to create a productive conversation that may lead to future data-sharing, co-authorship and feedback from other scientists.
Warne said that this research is important because more students are being encouraged to take AP classes even though they may not gain benefits from enrolling in these classes. Some states are starting to implement an ‘AP for All’ policy. In some cases, they are replacing regular classes with AP classes. Utah does not yet have that policy.