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Changes of name, contents and attitudes to mathematical units. (English)
Vakalis, Ignatios et al., 2nd international conference on the teaching of mathematics (at the undergraduate level). Wiley, New York, NY. 386 (2002).
Will this material be on the exam? Why do I need to know this stuff? These are the sorts of questions that have been regularly asked from our mathematics students. Pre-service mathematics teachers often suggest that they do not need to learn anything that they do not have to teach. Generally, these students appear to have very little aesthetic appreciation for mathematics and its applications. Currently, we teach five traditional mathematical content units that are provided mainly for pre-service mathematics teachers. These units have been adapted and modified over the years from units that were designed primarily for science students. They contained a heavy focus on calculus with a limited breadth of mathematical experience. After consulting widely on the best mathematical practices throughout Australia and internationally, it was decided to reform all of the mathematics units to make them more attractive to a wider audience. The units that are currently being developed are: Profit, Loss and Gambling; Upon the Shoulders of Giants; Logic and Imagination; Modelling and Change; Algorithms, Bits and Bytes; Space, Shape, and Design; and Modelling Reality. The overall goal of this redevelopment is to improve student attitudes and motivation by exposing them to a wide range of topics in mathematics that are usable and relevant. All of these units will incorporate current technology, contain realistic problems, and include visiting speakers. Student assessment in these units will consist of portfolios, projects and examinations. The introduction of these new units will result in students having a greater choice of the units they wish to study. In order to overcome potential logistical problems of a small mathematics department, innovative changes to the structure of the units will also be examined. This paper will provide the details of the establishment of these units and some preliminary teacher and student responses from the first semester.
Classification: D35
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