A REVIEW OF MATHEMATICS REQUIREMENTS FOR INCOMING ENGINEERING

A REVIEW OF MATHEMATICS REQUIREMENTS FOR INCOMING ENGINEERING UNDERGRADUATES IN IRELAND Eabhnat N Fhloinn CASTel, Dublin City University 25th May 2010 MATHEMATICS REQUIREMENTS FOR HONOURS ENGINEERING DEGREES For Honours Engineering degrees accredited by Engineers Ireland: HC3 in Mathematics

In 2009: 16.2% of Leaving Certificate students took Higher Level Mathematics 80.8% of those received HC3 or higher This amounts to 13.1% of student cohort of 2009... ...just over 6,800 students CHALLENGES IN STUDENT INTAKE Overall enrolment in the university sector has gone up 10.8% in the past five years 11.8% of enrolments last year were

international students Poor numerical skills on entry are a strong predictor of failure to pass first year engineering (Costello, DIT, 2002) AN INTERNATIONAL PROBLEM In increasingly more countries, there is concern over the deterioration in the mathematical ability of new entrants to engineering programmes... On its own this decline in key engineering mathematics skills amongst students who obtained reasonable entry qualifications would be a significant

concern. However, it has been compounded by the trend across Europe to increase the numbers entering higher education. As a result, some students who are less qualified have started courses to which, previously, they would not have been admitted... - Mathematics for the European Engineer: A Curriculum for the Twenty-First Century by SEFI European Society for Engineering Education (2002) THE AUSTRALIAN SITUATION Washington Accord signatory (like Ireland) Similar to Irish system: 5-6 subjects taken for final school examinations

Almost all students take mathematics Offered at three levels (elementary, intermediate, advanced) Entry to third-level programmes dependent on Universities Admission Index THE AUSTRALIAN SITUATION Enrolments are growing in elementary mathematics but decreasing in other two levels Only 64% of high schools now offer advanced mathematics Advanced mathematics requirement for engineering

dropped by almost all universities There is a widespread, perhaps erroneous belief that students can improve their University Admission Index (a national index that ranks students from their state assessments) by taking less demanding subjects - Engineering Mathematics in Australia, Henderson and Broadbridge, 2009 NON-STANDARD ENTRY FOR STUDENTS WITHOUT HC3 MATHEMATICS Traditionally, two main approaches: 1. Completion of Ordinary Engineering degree (3 years) followed by direct entry into 3rd year of Honours Engineering degree 2. Students take 5 years instead of 4 to complete Honours Engineering degree with

1st year treated as foundation year In both cases, progression depends on sufficiently high grades NON-STANDARD ENTRY FOR STUDENTS WITHOUT HC3 MATHEMATICS New approach: Supplementary mathematics exam Offered by UL, NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway, DIT, CIT

NUI Galway offers week-long summer school to help students prepare (emphasis: this only serves as final preparation) DCU uses interview process in conjunction with grades to determine non-standard entry QUESTIONS TO POSE... Best second-chance mechanism for nonstandard entry? Does this vary depending on institute?

Are students likely to require additional support? Are supplementary exams similar level to HC3 in Leaving Cert? Would obligatory summer school ensure improvement in students maths pre-entry?

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