What Do Mathematics Students Say About Mathematics Internationally?
In this chapter we continue our investigation of students’ views about mathematics. Here we move to the second phase of our project, involving a much larger and more diverse group, over a 1,000 undergraduate students from five universities in five different countries and continents. By extending our research to an international undergraduate group, we are able to check whether the results that we obtained with our small group of mathematics major students in an Australian university can be supported with a broader sample group. In order to achieve this generalisation, we changed some features of our earlier study. The most obvious one is that we have gathered students’ views using written, open-ended questions, making the investigation practicable, while still allowing us to identify new ideas. Further, our expanded group includes students studying mathematics as a ‘service’ subject, as well as mathematics majors. Our results show that the original analysis can be applied successfully to the larger group, with minor modifications. We report on the categorisations of students’ conceptions of mathematics and the relationships between these categories, supported by quotes from their written responses to the open-ended questions. We use standard quantitative techniques to investigate the relationships between the conceptions of mathematics and other variables such as university, year and area of study. We summarise students’ views about their future use of mathematics, obtained from the responses to two of the survey questions. Finally, we discuss the implications of these results for teaching and learning university mathematics, and assess the contribution of adding an international perspective to our overall aim of investigating the process of becoming a mathematician.
KeywordsMathematics Education Classification Tree Broad Conception Future Career Professional Skill
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