Building quantitative skills of undergraduate science students: Exploring the educational resources

Leanne J. Rylands, Kelly E. Matthews, Vilma Simbag, Shaun Belward, Peter Adams, Carmel Coady

Abstract


Science and mathematics are inherently interwoven, although they are often considered as separate entities for educational purposes. Consequently, teaching and learning in these fields is dominated by discipline perspectives without explicit mention of the need for knowledge of the symbiotic relationship between them. Not only do students entering science programs in higher education need a base level of mathematical knowledge, they are expected to apply this knowledge in scientific contexts, utilising their quantitative skills (QS). Many higher education science curricula reform efforts are responding to the increasing mathematical diversity of students, although they struggle to build QS of all students to an appropriate threshold prior to graduation. This paper aims to discuss educational resources that attempt to build the QS of science graduates. Data from interviews across nine Australian universities reveals a range of resources developed and delivered by mathematics departments and science departments usually in isolation from each other, but with some instances of cross-disciplinary resource development. Implications for the ongoing divide between mathematics departments and science departments, and the tension between teaching mathematical knowledge and the need for that knowledge to be applied in science, are discussed along with areas where further research could benefit the sector.

Full Text:

PDF