I have found some anecdotal evidence, but I only found one systematic study by Bair and Bair

I'm specifically interested in the answers for Mathematics, Physics, and Engineering disciplines.

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    Could you provide details on the bibliographical search you have already carried out in relation to your question? Sounds like it would be a great question for a subject librarian in an education department.
    – G-E
    Nov 1, 2016 at 13:32
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    McCreary, Jason, and Charles Hausman. "Differences in Student Outcomes between Block, Semester, and Trimester Schedules." (2001). Nov 2, 2016 at 0:07
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    This might be helpful: trimesters.org/SemVsTrimester.pdf
    – user65587
    Dec 1, 2016 at 11:31
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    @user65587 It's not like there's a reason to assume that a document pulled from trimesters.org is going to have a bias one way or the other. Jan 28, 2017 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


I do not know about semester vs. trimester, but I have seen research showing that taking 2 semesters to learn Calculus I prepares students more completely, and makes them more resistant to leaving STEM majors:

Nelson, M. (2014, September). Oral Reviews: Retaining STEM Majors. In Innovations in Teaching & Learning Conference Proceedings (Vol. 6).

and Nelson, M. A. (2010). Oral assessments: Improving retention, grades, and understanding. PRIMUS, 21(1), 47-61.

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    Two semesters vs one semester? Or two semesters vs two quarters? Three quarters? Your control group / comparison group is unclear.
    – RoboKaren
    Feb 21, 2017 at 15:53

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