Effective Learning & Teaching in Mathematics & Its Applications

By Peter Kahn; Joseph Kyle | Go to book overview

12

Mathematical modelling skills

Stephen Hibberd


Introduction

Mathematicians in industry and commerce, and also those entering postgraduate study, are expected to possess a range of mathematical abilities from knowledge and implementation of mathematical and computational techniques to the development of mathematical skills. Within nearly all mathematics degree programmes in the UK the acquisition of subject-specific knowledge, essential IT skills, and the use of mathematical and statistical software, as well as subject-specific skills of logical thought and analysis and problem solving, are well embedded in the curriculum (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, 2000). Typically, these are delivered through formal lectures supported by tutorials and/or seminars, problem classes and practical workshop sessions; while assessment is normally heavily weighted to formal examinations. Increasingly it is recognized that some variety of teaching and learning experience helps students to develop both subject-specific and transferable skills, and in many instances these can be accommodated through activities loosely grouped as 'mathematical modelling'. Associated assessments and feedback designed around project-based work, from more extensive coursework assignments through to substantial reports, can allow students to demonstrate their understanding and problem-solving abilities, and enhance both their mathematical and key skills. Often quoted attributes gained by graduates are the subject-specific, personal and transferable skills gained through a mathematics-rich degree. Increasingly, students are selecting their choice of degree to meet the flexible demands of a changing workplace and well-designed Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research (MSOR) programmes have the potential to develop a profile of the knowledge, skills abilities and personal attributes integrated alongside the more traditional subject-specific education.

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