An interrelated approach to teaching mathematics in further education
2012-10-01T12:43:11Z (GMT) by
Reports and consultative documents published at national level since about 1980 have indicated that British Industry must look to modern technology and also educate and train its workers on a 'broad base', with an 'integrated' approach. Traditionally, and still very much the mode of operation, teaching has been confined within subject boundaries. A research group was established by Professor Bajpai consisting of the author, Mr Rod Bond (Burleigh Community College, Loughborough) and a few others working overseas to investigate a teaching strategy based on an interrelated approach to teaching mathematics. Measurement was chosen as the first topic of investigation using this approach which then formed the basis for further research undertaken by the two research workers of the group whose work is reported in the form of two theses. This thesis aims to show that mathematics is naturally related to science and technology in industrial practice and that when taught in an interrelated way it would be more interesting and have more relevance to real applications in technology-based employment at craft and technician levels. To help establish the case experiments carried out by the author are referred to; these include a few case studies, a questionnaire survey and results analysed from more than five hundred basic mathematics tests. The various kinds of mathematics taught in further education are described and compared with mathematics in a practical context as seen from a case study within an engineering training school. Next a survey of mathematics at work shows that, like the training school, there is a task associated with the mathematics which is also related to science or technology or both. Another case study in the pharmaceutical industry lends further support to the way mathematics is used in industry. Much of the mathematics also seems to be basic and used in association with measurement and a particular task. It was decided by the research group that a tape/slide programme on measurement for students and educators should be developed by the author and tested in different situations. Teaching modules on relevant mathematical topics based on the interrelated approach were constructed for students with strong support from industry in the form of materials and advice. Testing of these modules, in their original and revised forms after feedback, is described. These trials were also carried out in other establishments. Modules based upon the interrelated approach developed by the author formed a basis for promoting the underlying philosophy behind this approach. These were presented to educators in in-service training and staff development programmes in the north western region of the UK with success. Observations and conclusions drawn clearly indicate that this type of method makes mathematics more interesting and relevant for students of different abilities and backgrounds. Finally pointers are given in the thesis as to the wider use and promotion of this approach for teaching mathematics in further education.