An evaluation of mathematical teaching pedagogies to tertiary engineering and information technology students at the University of Canberra

  • Fouzeh Albeshree

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

    Abstract

    Students’ weak performance in mathematics subjects is a critical issue for many universities. While many studies have explored the causes of weak mathematics foundation of many students, there is a continued need to explore effective measures to improve students’ learning outcomes.
    This study examines the effectiveness of the pedagogical approaches used by educators in addressing the mathematics challenges faced by first-year engineering and information technology (EIT) students, with a particular emphasis placed on the University of Canberra (UC). It also aims to provide recommendations that could help educators motivate EIT students to improve their mathematics performance.
    Three primary research questions guided this investigation: (1) What are the impacts of the UC mathematics teaching approach on the first-year EIT students’ collaboration, understanding, and achievement in mathematics? (2) What factors motivate EIT students to engage or lose interest in mathematics? (3) Does implementing a multidisciplinary pedagogical approach enhance the effectiveness of student mathematics learning for UC’s EIT students?
    A mixed-methods approach of quantitative and qualitative techniques was employed. Where a quantitative study was carried out to elaborate on problem areas, and research questions were employed and investigated further in the collection and analysis of qualitative data.
    The outcomes of the quantitative analysis showed that there was a significant and positive relationship between students’ learning style and students’ understanding, time management, effort and satisfaction. It also found more than one-third of the students had serious concentration issues, about 62% of the students had trouble keeping up with what they are learning, and a large portion of participants perceived experienced anxiety and a lack of motivation issues.
    The qualitative analysis showed that each construct (dimension) of the teaching method (e.g., collaboration, understanding, engagement and motivation) is interconnected and interdependent - presumably, it cannot function in an isolated environment. Each dimension demands balanced attention during the learning session by the actors (EIT students, mathematics teachers, and education/curriculum experts). Learning and teaching sessions in the classroom can be identified as a system taking certain inputs processed by these interrelated dimensions of the teaching method to generate a set of outputs (student achievements) through certain processes. Based on the findings of the qualitative data’s emerging themes, questioning the impact of teaching methods on collaboration, understanding, and achievement cannot be seen as separate entities with one impacting the other; rather, they overlap. Therefore, a teaching method alone cannot be a single isolated unit of analysis. Still, the heavier burden is on the teachers’ shoulders, but the institution’s leadership and the highly qualified educators need to encourage innovative teamwork.
    Within the setting of mathematical learning practice at UC, the fact that the actors (students, teachers, and experts) embrace the same awareness concerning what makes effective mathematical learning, along with their receptivity to ever-changing social and technological advancements, can be considered an advantageous condition to further experiment on effective educational approaches. For example, adopting action processes stipulated in teaching for robust understanding and lesson study (TRU-Lesson Study) framework.
    Date of Award2022
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorShuangzhe Liu (Supervisor), Charles Lemckert (Supervisor), Dat Tran (Supervisor), Sergey Sergeev (Supervisor) & Scott Murray (Supervisor)

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