Core skills assessment to improve mathematical competency

Carr, M., Bowe, B. and Ní Fhloinn, E. (2013) Core skills assessment to improve mathematical competency. pp. 608-619. ISSN 03043797 (ISSN)


Many engineering undergraduates begin third-level education with significant deficiencies in their core mathematical skills. Every year, in the Dublin Institute of Technology, a diagnostic test is given to incoming first-year students, consistently revealing problems in basic mathematics. It is difficult to motivate students to address these problems; instead, they struggle through their degree, carrying a serious handicap of poor core mathematical skills, as confirmed by exploratory testing of final year students. In order to improve these skills, a pilot project was set up in which a 'module' in core mathematics was developed. The course material was basic, but 90% or higher was required to pass. Students were allowed to repeat this module throughout the year by completing an automated examination on WebCT populated by a question bank. Subsequent to the success of this pilot with third-year mechanical engineering students, the project was extended to five different engineering programmes, across three different year-groups. Full results and analysis of this project are presented, including responses to interviews carried out with a selection of the students involved. © 2013 SEFI.

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