Seminar 8/12/17: Trends in undergraduate students' basic mathematical skills on entry to third level education over the past two decades

Trends in undergraduate students' basic mathematical skills on entry to third level education over the past two decades
Fiona Faulkner
Dublin Institute of Technology
Friday 8 December 2017
1pm, KE3-008, 3rd floor, Main Building, DIT Kevin Street

Abstract:

In 1997 diagnostic testing was first implemented in the University of Limerick due to service mathematics lecturers' anxiety regarding Science and Technology students' mathematical competency levels. The test is a tool to identify those who are struggling with the basic mathematical concepts needed for third level education. An examination of over 8,000 students involved in the diagnostic testing in UL between 1998 and 2008 highlighted a steady decline in students' basic mathematical competency levels on entry to third level education. This data was also used to explore the role of prior mathematics achievement in predicting performance in third level mathematics (Faulkner et al 2010). Later examinations of the diagnostic test data, between 2003 and 2013, found that the proportion of students tested that are predicted to be at risk of failing their service mathematics end-of-semester examinations had continued to increased. Furthermore, when students' performance in secondary level mathematics was controlled, it was determined that the performance of beginning undergraduates in 2013 was statistically significantly below that of the performance of the beginning undergraduates recorded 10 years previously (Treacy and Faulkner 2015). This research also examines the declining standard in basic mathematics skills in light of curriculum changes in second level education (Treacy, Faulkner and Prendergast 2016).