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The mathematics problem

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-05-01, 00:00 authored by Kieran LimKieran Lim
“I signed up for chemistry, not mathematics” is a common complaint among chemistry students, especially at first-year undergraduate level, but also at senior secondary level and TAFE. Chemistry teachers and educators have observed that today’s students have less confidence to handle numerical calculations then their counterparts 20 years ago. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, a smaller proportion of students are studying mathematics at senior secondary level, and of those students, many are choosing to study “lower-level” mathematics in the perception that this will result in a higher Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranking (ATAR).

The mathematics problem is not lack of knowledge and skill. The problem is a pessimistic attitude associated with lack of confidence. Yet judgement of proportionality (how much condiment is needed for that recipe) and other mathematical ability is excellent in most students. As educators, we ned to help students to recognise the mathematics skills that they do have. Encouraging them to study more senior school mathematics would also help.

History

Journal

Chemistry in Australia

Volume

2017

Issue

May

Pagination

40 - 40

Publisher

Royal Australian Chemical Institute

ISSN

0314-4240

Publication classification

X Not reportable; C4 Letter or note

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