Effective Learning & Teaching in Mathematics & Its Applications

By Peter Kahn; Joseph Kyle | Go to book overview
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Preface

Setting the scene
Recent years have seen a greater focus on learning and teaching in mathematics and its applications in higher education. What should the typical undergraduate programme contain and how should it be taught? How best do we serve the needs of those who require mathematics as part of their study of another discipline? There will, no doubt, be many valid answers to these questions. And it is one of the strengths of this text that it attempts to cover a fair slice of the spectrum of these views. As we write, there is in the UK what we might refer to as the 'official' answer, embodied in the December 2001 draft of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA, 2000) Benchmarking statement, which covers mathematics, statistics and operational research (QAA, 2001). In this we see that a graduate who has reached the modal level should be able to:
Demonstrate a reasonable understanding of the main body of knowledge for the programme of study.
Demonstrate a good level of skill in calculation and manipulation of the material within this body of knowledge.
Apply a range of concepts and principles in loosely defined contexts, showing effective judgement in the selection and application of tools and techniques.
Develop and evaluate logical arguments.
Demonstrate skill in abstracting the essentials of problems, formulating them mathematically and obtaining solutions by appropriate methods.
Present arguments and conclusions effectively and accurately.
Demonstrate appropriate transferable skills and the ability to work with relatively little guidance or support.

The authors of this statement go to some lengths to qualify and set the context for this list. In particular it is stressed that 'students should meet this standard in an overall sense, not necessarily in respect of each and every of the statements listed'

-xiii-

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