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# An investigation of Physics undergraduates’ attitudes towards mathematics

journal contribution

posted on 2011-09-06, 11:43 authored by Ria Symonds, Duncan Lawson, Carol RobinsonIn recent years, the failure rate on first year mathematics modules on Physics courses
at Loughborough University has given cause for concern. It was feared that failure in
the first year would result in students performing poorly in future mathematics
modules. Hence, a proactive support system was introduced for the mathematically
less well-prepared first year Physics students in October 2005. On completion of the
first mathematics module, this initiative showed some successful features in terms of
the results of the less well-prepared students. However, the use of qualitative research
methods revealed a difference in attitudes towards mathematics between the wellprepared
and less well-prepared students. This paper outlines the students’ attitudes
towards mathematics expressed through questionnaires and individual interviews. It
compares the well-prepared and less well-prepared students’ attitudes towards
mathematics prior to university and discusses the differences between the two
cohorts. The paper also examines how the introduction of a support system has
affected the students’ attitudes. A key outcome, in terms of the less well-prepared
students, is that the first semester experience was positive in terms of increasing
enjoyment of mathematics, but was negative in terms of feeling confident in
mathematics. Finally, the paper also analyses data taken from individual interviews
with some students on students’ learning approaches towards mathematics. These are
investigated closely and comparisons are again made between the well-prepared and
less well-prepared students. The analysis reveals that the less well-prepared students
failed to adapt their learning approach to one suitable for Higher Education.

## History

## School

- Science

## Department

- Mathematics Education Centre

## Citation

SYMONDS, R., LAWSON, D. and ROBINSON, C., 2010. An investigation of Physics undergraduates’ attitudes towards mathematics. Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications, 29 (3), pp. 140-154## Publisher

Oxford University Press on behalf of The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications © The Author## Version

- AM (Accepted Manuscript)

## Publication date

2010## Notes

This article was accepted for publication in the journal, Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications [Oxford University Press on behalf of The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications © The Author]. The definitive version is available at: http://teamat.oxfordjournals.org/content/29/3/140.short## ISSN

0268-3679## Publisher version

## Language

- en

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