Students' mathematical preparation: differences in staff and student perceptions

Wandel, Andrew P. and Robinson, Clare and Abdulla, Shahab and Dalby, Tim and Frederiks, Anita and Galligan, Linda (2015) Students' mathematical preparation: differences in staff and student perceptions. International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 23 (1). pp. 82-93. ISSN 1836-0858


Surveys of staff and first year students from the Science, Nursing, and Engineering and Built Environment disciplines are compared to ascertain the differences between their perceptions regarding the students' mathematical preparation for their first semester of university. The surveys were conducted after students had received their results from the first semester. Unsurprisingly, the perceived capabilities in the basic topics were generally higher than the advanced topics. In general, staff were pessimistic about the students' capabilities, while students were optimistic. The pessimism of the staff appears to be linked to the diversity of the student cohort, where students who studied the higher levels of mathematics in Year 12 tended to perceive that they were well prepared, while students who studied the lower levels of mathematics (Year 10 and Mathematics A) were likely to perceive that they were inadequately prepared. This raises the possibility that the course content has been targeted below the capabilities of the higher levels of Year 12 mathematics: a prospect which should be further investigated because of its important implications. An important intervention that significantly improved the capabilities of students was the completion of tertiary pre-entry courses: these students had similar confidence to those who completed intermediate level mathematics (Mathematics B). Mandatory completion of such pre-entry courses for under-qualified students could arrest the tendency to reduce the difficulty of the mathematics in first-year university.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Copyright Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2015 00:15
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2016 00:47
Uncontrolled Keywords: mathematics preparation; first year university; perceptions; academic staff; students; higher education research
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130208 Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930502 Management of Education and Training Systems
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970101 Expanding Knowledge in the Mathematical Sciences

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