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Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA Current Issue

Published: Thu, 13 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Fri, 08 Dec 2017 15:02:18 GMT


CATO—a guided user interface for different CAS

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

CATO is a new user interface, written in Java and developed by the author as a response to the significant difficulties faced by students who only sporadically use computer algebra systems (CAS).The usage of CAS in mathematical lectures should be an integral part of mathematical instruction. However, difficulties arise for those students who have classes that meet only once or twice a week and therefore use CAS only irregularly. Such difficulties are compounded when two different CAS must be used in instruction.The author has observed that the use of CAS in lectures is not necessarily positive for all students. Most students consider it as an additional (and unnecessary) academic burden. They focus on the difficulties entailed in the use of CAS rather than on the utility of these systems.The author has developed a guided general user interface (guided GUI) which translates commands into the languages of different CAS. His intention in so doing has been to develop intuitive operability for CAS. For example, commands with more than one parameter have their own input windows with commentated input rows for every parameter. This means that the newly developed interface CATO itself orders the parameters, and uses the correct brackets and separators.In the article below, the author also describes two examples; neither Maxima nor the Mathematical Toolbox of MATLAB is powerful enough to solve both of them.

Students’ and lecturers’ views on mathematics resources

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 00:00:00 GMT

There is a general agreement that many students struggle with the transition from secondary to higher education, particularly in the context of mathematics modules. Lecturers often suggest or supply supplemental resources to give students the opportunity to overcome their difficulties. In addition, students often seek out resources independently, many of which are provided through digital-age technology. Current research in this area focuses on the effectiveness of resources that mathematics educators have developed. However, it is unclear which resource types students select themselves and what specific content they seek. In addition, the type of resources that lecturers recommend to students is not well documented. In this article, we present findings from two surveys carried out in higher education institutes in Ireland: one involving students and the other involving lecturers. In particular, we focus on the resource types favoured by students and lecturers, the specific content that they relate to and the issues they seek to address.

Mind the gap: an initial analysis of the transition of a second level curriculum reform to higher education

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This article details an initial analysis of the transition of a second level curriculum reform to higher education in Ireland. The reform entitled ‘Project Maths’ involved changes to what second level students learn in mathematics, how they learn it, and how they are assessed. Changes were rolled out nationally on a phased basis in September 2010. Students who were taught and assessed through the new curriculum first entered third level education in September 2012. It is important that third level mathematics lecturers are aware of the changes to the curriculum since certain topics such as vectors and matrices are no longer taught at second level. Hence, third level courses may need to be adapted accordingly. This study investigates mathematics lecturers’ awareness of Project Maths and whether they have made any adaptions to their course content, teaching and assessment approaches as a result of the new curriculum being introduced. The findings, from a return rate of 23% of eligible respondents, show that although many lecturers are mindful of the concept of Project Maths, they are not aware of the changes in full and how it affects their own course content, teaching and assessment strategies. Accordingly, the gap between second and third level education remains. This study highlights that more needs to be done to ensure there is coherent and uniform approaches to the teaching, learning and assessment of mathematics in the transition from second to third level education.

Engineering undergraduates’ views of A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics as preparation for their degree

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 00:00:00 GMT

An ongoing reform programme of the post-16 Advanced ‘A’-level qualifications in England and Wales means that pre-university mathematics content and assessment will change from 2017. Undergraduate engineering is a subject that relies heavily on mathematics, and applicants to engineering degree programmes in the UK are required to have studied A-level Mathematics in order to be accepted. Therefore, the planned reforms are likely to have an impact on students’ transition to undergraduate engineering. To investigate this, we conducted an online questionnaire survey of 462 current undergraduate engineering students who had taken A-levels. Participants reported on their experiences of studying post-compulsory mathematics and the preparation it provided for their degrees. Those who had studied the more advanced A-level—Further Mathematics—in addition to A-level Mathematics, considered it to be good preparation. They also believed that the A-level structure, which allows specialization in certain areas of applied mathematics, to be advantageous. In particular, possibilities for in-depth study of mechanics and pure mathematics were highly valued by participants. It is recommended that university engineering departments do more to encourage prospective students to study Further Mathematics. However, it should not necessarily be made compulsory because of constraints regarding access, uptake and provision of Further Mathematics in certain schools.