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Names: Erhan Bingolbali*, Fatih Ozmantar*, Hatice Akko
Affiliations: * University of Gaziantep, Turkey; University of Marmara, Turkey
E-mail: HYPERLINK "mailto:bingolbali@gantep.edu.tr" bingolbali@gantep.edu.tr, HYPERLINK "mailto:mfozmantar@hotmail.com" mfozmantar@hotmail.com, HYPERLINK "mailto:haticeakkoc@yahoo.com" haticeakkoc@yahoo.com
Title: Bringing engineering students views into play: what mathematics they want and how they view mathematics
Nature of proposal: Research
One sentence summary: The purpose of this study is to explore how engineering students view mathematics, what mathematics they want in their courses and for their profession and why they hold this view.
ABSTRACT
In recent years, the mathematical education of engineering students has gained more attention from mathematics educators, university mathematics lecturers and professional associations. Main reasons for this, to us, are threefold: the issue of reassessment of engineering students mathematical needs in the light of new technological development in work of professional engineers (Kent & Noss, 2003); engineering students difficulties with mathematical concepts; and their changing mathematical background at entry to engineering departments over the years and problems arising from this (see, Bingolbali, Monaghan & Roper, 2007, for more detail). Concerns regarding these issues amongst parties responsible for engineering students education have resulted in reconsideration of not only what mathematics to teach to engineering students but also how mathematics can be better taught to them (e.g., Kent & Noss, 2001; Hibberd & Mustoe 2000 and journals (www.ltsn.gla.ac.uk) in which lecturers report on aspects of teaching mathematics including service mathematics). In this paper, we would like to bring forward the voices of engineering students themselves and explore how they view mathematics, what mathematics they want in their courses and for their profession and why they hold this view.
The data for this paper comes from interviews with engineering students. The students were interviewed to put across their views with regard to many issues including mathematics and what kind of mathematics they want in their mathematics course. The findings demonstrate that the students view mathematics as a tool and only as a tool; they want to learn mathematics that they can apply in engineering applications. As Kent and Noss (2003) point out engineering students certainly need to learn and know mathematics. However, important question here, as Maull & Berry (1997) rightly draw our attention, is how do we view mathematics taught to engineering students: a mental discipline or a tool? Either choice would bring about dramatic differences in the approaches to teaching mathematics to engineering students. Viewing mathematics as a mental discipline puts a heavy emphasis on mathematics which could mean the ignorance of the students interests and needs. Yet if mathematics is viewed as a tool, then students interest and satisfaction is placed in the centre and this raises rightful doubts with regard to intellectual rigour. There does not appear an easy way out of this dilemma but engineering students views on what mathematics they need and the reasons for these could make significant contributions in making progress towards the resolution of the controversies and dilemmas.
Reference
Bingolbali, E., Monaghan, J. and Roper, T. (2007), Engineering students conceptions of the derivative and some implications for their mathematical education, International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, Vol. 38, No. 6, 15 September 2007, 763777.
Hibberd, S. & Mustoe, L. (Eds). (2000), Proceedings of the 3rd IMA conference on the Mathematical Education of Engineers. Southend-on-sea: IMA.
Kent, P. & Noss R. (2001), Finding a role for technology in service mathematics for engineers and scientists. In: D. Holton (Ed.), The Teaching and Learning of Mathematics at University Level: An ICMI Study. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Kent, P. & Noss, R. (2003), Mathematics in the University Education of Engineers (A report to The Ove Arup Foundation). London: The Ove Arup Foundation. Retrieved 14 October, 2005 from HYPERLINK "http://k1.ioe.ac.uk/rnoss/REMIT/" http://k1.ioe.ac.uk/rnoss/REMIT/
Maull, W.M. and Berry, J.S. (1997), Modelling the mathematical ideas of engineering students. In: S. Hibberd and L. Mustoe (Eds) The Mathematical Education of Engineers II (London: IMA), pp. 7177.
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