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The repercussions in higher education of the changes in the teaching and learning of mechanics in schools in England

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posted on 17.09.2014, 12:54 authored by Stephen Lee
This thesis considered the repercussions in higher education of the changes in the teaching and learning of mechanics in schools/colleges in England. Within the last decade there has been an abundance of reports detailing concerns about the insufficient mathematical ability of students entenng numerate degree programmes. In 2003, at an Engineering Professors Council meeting, Prof: Mike Savage indicated concern not only about students' knowledge of mathematics upon arrival, but also of mechanics. Thus, this thesis considered if there was now also a mechamcs problem. In this thesis, following a review of pre-university mathematics qualifications, three primary areas were considered: the schools' perspective; students' knowledge of mechanics upon arrival at university; and engineering academics' perspective. In addition, linear multiple regression models were created to predict students' first year performance. In both 2004 and 2006 questionnaires were sent to 497 schools to determine the availability and uptake of specific modules in Mathematics A-levels. Changes detected in these undoubtedly have repercussions for higher education educators lecturing first year students. Questionnaires, interviews and a mechanics diagnostic test were given to engineering students to establish the level to which they had studied mechanics prior to entry to university and to determine what knowledge of mechanics they had. Nearly a third of (1087) questionnaire replies gave indication that little or no mechanics had been studied, which has repercussions for those teaching a first year university module in mechanics. Questionnaires and interviews were also used to gain engineering academics' perspective and one of the major issues was found to be a misalignment between expectation and reality. Finally, linear multiple regression models, created to predict students' first year performance, highlighted variables such as a student's mathematics diagnostic test result and whether they made use of the mathematics learning support centre as being important.



  • Science


  • Mathematical Sciences


© Stephen Lee

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A Doctoral Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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