Teaching Mathematics to economy and engineering students in Norway is a challenge. Lecturers experience high failure rate, teaching large student-groups, short semesters and large curriculum when teaching. We have tried several different approaches to improve students’ performance and reduce drop out and failure rate.
One thing that we cannot change, is the mathematical prerequisites to our students. 40% of our students starting on the engineering bachelor programme at University of Agder do not have the required mathematics when entering. Until now we have done this for these students:
For economy, students choose between a “soft“ or “hard“ version of the mathematics course in the first semester. The have the same final exam but weaker students get more hours and help in the “soft” version.
For engineering, students must pass a 6-week pre-course in maths before starting at the first semester calculus course in engineering.
But we still have up to 50% drop out and failure rate for these “weaker” students. We are now starting up new projects for both economy and engineering where the use of e-Assessment will be one of the support beams. Both of these two projects are supported by our Centre of Excellence in Education, MatRIC. The main changes will be:
The mathematics course is moved to the second semester. In the first semester all new economy-students do a “mapping”-test in Numbas, in order to be aware of their own prerequisites and then take part of a pre-course if their knowledge is weak. This pre-course has 3 modules that are designed as a ´learning-ladder´, with use of Numbas and starts the 15th of august 2018.
The pre-course in maths is extended to 9 weeks with the first cohort starting the 1st of June 2019. At the end of the course they will have a final exam. If they fail on this exam they have only one option: Start on the One-year preliminary course for engineers. In this project we will produce exercises and problems using STACK, with a special focus on providing “weak” students good feedback when working on problems.