The transition from secondary to tertiary education in mathematics

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Funding year: 
2008
Duration:
2 years
Organisation: 
Auckland UniServices
Sector: 
Post school sector
Project start date: 
January 2008
Project end date: 
January 2010
Principal investigator(s): 
Mike Thomas
Research team members: 
Sergiy Klymchuk, Auckland University of Technology
Research partners: 
The University of Auckland; Auckland University of Technology; Ye Yoon Hong, Suzanne Kerr, Johanna McHardy, Priscilla Murphy, Sue Spencer, and Peter Watson from Mt Albert Grammar and Epsom Girls Grammar schools

Project Description

In recent years there has been a growing interest in the transition from school to university. Reports identify problems in transition as a significant factor in learning mathematics, with international concerns about decreasing numbers of students opting to study mathematics at university and their decreasing levels of competence (Smith, 2004). In addition, serious concern has been expressed around a lack of essential technical facility, a marked decline in analytical powers, and a changed perception of what mathematics is, especially with regard to the place of precision and proof. Although there have been some studies on possible causes of transition problems, the amount of research in mathematics education at the tertiary level is still modest (Selden & Selden, 2001), and usually does not cover the secondary-tertiary transition well.

This 2-year study considered the evidence from New Zealand of the existence of a gap in the transition from school to tertiary study in mathematics and what factors might be promoting it. The aim was to identify the nature of any transition difficulties and analyse possible reasons for them. We found that there is a need for much better communication between teachers and tertiary lecturers and their institutions. Also while students are affected differently by the transition, their motivation for studying mathematics changed, and their confidence fell during the transition. It seems that improving study skills and assisting them to acquire a facility for independent learning would help.

            

Project Contact

Professor  Mike Thomas  
University of Auckland  
Email: moj.thomas@auckland.ac.nz

       

Project Contact

Dr Sergiy Klymchuk
University of Technology (AUT) 
Email:sergiy.klymchuk@aut.ac.nz


Project Outputs

2009

Presentations, conferences and workshops

Hong, Y. Y., Kerr, S., Klymchuk, S., McHardy, J., Murphy, P., Spencer, S., Thomas, M. O. J., & Watson, P. (2009). Teachers’ perspectives on the transition from secondary to tertiary mathematics education. In R. Hunter, B. Bicknell, & T. Burgess (Eds.), Crossing Divides: Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (Vol. 1, pp. 241-248). Wellington, New Zealand: MERGA.

Hong, Y. Y., Kerr, S., Klymchuk, S., McHardy, J., Murphy, P., Spencer, S., Thomas, M. O. J., & Watson, P. (2009). Modelling the transition from secondary to tertiary mathematics education: Teacher and lecturer perspectives. In L. Paditz, & A. Rogerson (Eds). Proceedings of the 10th International Conference of the Mathematics Education into the 21st Century (pp. 250-254). Dresden, Germany: Dresden University of Applied Sciences.

Hong, Y. Y., Kerr, S., Klymchuk, S., McHardy, J., Murphy, P., Spencer, S., Thomas, M. O. J., & Watson, P. (2009). A comparison of teacher and lecturer perspectives on the transition from secondary to tertiary mathematics education. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 1464-5211, Volume 40, Issue 7, 2009, Pages 877 – 889

Klymchuk, S., & Thomas, M. O. J. (2009). Teachers’ mathematical knowledge: The influence of attention. In M. Tzekaki, M. Kaldrimidou, & C. Sakonidis (Eds.), Proceedings of the 33rd Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, (Vol. 3, pp. 361-368). Thessaloniki, Greece.