Scaffolding distance learning in mathematics for engineering: identifying key troublesome knowledge

Galligan, Linda and Wandel, Andrew P. and Hartle, R. Todd (2010) Scaffolding distance learning in mathematics for engineering: identifying key troublesome knowledge. In: 1st Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Education Conference (STEM 2010), 26-27 Nov 2010, Brisbane, Australia.

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Mathematics skills are critical in engineering, yet many students enter university without sufficient proficiency. At the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), the Faculty of Engineering and Surveying (FoES) has a large number of external mature age students, many of whom have forgotten or never learnt these skills. We aim to improve students' completion and satisfaction rates in mathematics-based courses in first year engineering by incorporating more scaffolded learning into the materials. The specific objective of the research related to this paper is to identify forgotten concepts, troublesome knowledge, threshold concepts and 'stuck places' (Meyer & Land 2005, 2006) in mathematics. A survey of 31 staff in the Faculty of Engineering and Surveying described the relationships among the key mathematics areas and the USQ FoES courses. A focus group session with 16 mathematics staff identified the topics and concepts that the instructors thought were crucial. Individual interviews with four introductory mathematics instructors confirmed the results of the survey and focus group, and characterized the underlying threshold concepts of select topics. The results of this data will be used to develop learning objects and materials.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Copyright of the paper remains with the author(s). Note from Conference committee 10/5/2011: 'We have decided to publish these papers as Conference Proceedings through the STEM2010 website'
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - Department of Maths and Computing
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2011 10:04
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2015 05:05
Uncontrolled Keywords: mathematics; engineering; threshold concepts; scaffolded learning; higher education research
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130208 Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy
09 Engineering > 0999 Other Engineering > 099999 Engineering not elsewhere classified
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130309 Learning Sciences
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930102 Learner and Learning Processes

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