An innovative learning model for computation in first year mathematics

Tonkes, E. J. and Loch, B. I. and Stace, A. W. (2005) An innovative learning model for computation in first year mathematics. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 36 (7). pp. 751-759. ISSN 0020-739X

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MATLAB is a sophisticated software tool for numerical analysis and visualisation. The University of Queensland has adopted Matlab as its official teaching package across large first year mathematics courses. In the past, the package has met severe resistance from students who have not appreciated their computational experience. Several main factors contribute: Firstly, the software is numerical rather than symbolic, providing a departure from the thinking patterns presented in lectures and tutorials. Secondly, many students cannot see a direct connection between the laboratory exercises and core course material from lectures. Thirdly, the students find hurdles to entry as commands often return annoying error messages and don't execute, and programs are difficult to write and debug. Overall, the details of the mathematics are lost in trying to negotiate the software. After considerable effort in tuning, it appears that a sequence of innovations has captured student support and added considerable value to both the computational and traditional learning process.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Author version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in the International Journal of Mathematics Education in Science and Technology © 2005 [copyright Taylor & Francis]. The article is available online at:
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Maths and Computing (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Maths and Computing (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 00:16
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2021 04:35
Uncontrolled Keywords: Matlab; first year mathematics education; interactive workbook; higher education
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130306 Educational Technology and Computing
08 Information and Computing Sciences > 0802 Computation Theory and Mathematics > 080204 Mathematical Software
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130208 Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3904 Specialist studies in education > 390405 Educational technology and computing
46 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 4613 Theory of computation > 461399 Theory of computation not elsewhere classified
39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390109 Mathematics and numeracy curriculum and pedagogy
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930103 Learner Development
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