An investigation into the influence of cultural background on the mathematics achievement of international engineering students

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Grenyer, Geoffrey 2012. An investigation into the influence of cultural background on the mathematics achievement of international engineering students. Loughborough University.
AuthorsGrenyer, Geoffrey
Abstract

Conference paper presented at EE2012
International Conference on Innovation, Practice and Research in Engineering Education

This exploratory research aimed to identify significant differences of approach to mathematics by engineering students which correlate with their country of previous study. Comparisons were made between students from the UK and those from the middle east. The research used a written questionnaire in which students were asked about their mathematical influences, tuition, revision, assessment, feelings and beliefs about mathematics. The questionnaire was given to 120 first year undergraduates in engineering at the University of Derby, including 38 from the middle east and 72 from the UK. Follow up interviews with students determined the structure of mathematics education common in the middle east. Discussions with teaching colleagues and the University international student advisor further informed the conclusions. The data indicated observable differences in most areas. The most significant were influences and methods of tuition, where self study, closed question solving and the completion of similar exercises were considered more important by middle eastern students than by UK students. The research concludes that these data show that differences of approaches to mathematics between middle east and UK students are not large and are only one factor determining differential performance. Recommendations are made that more subject specific research is carried out across a wider range of cultural backgrounds to determine the relative importance of academic, cultural and material effects on student performance whilst noting the significant practical advice already published.

This exploratory research aimed to identify significant differences of approach to mathematics by engineering students which correlate with their country of previous study. Comparisons were made between students from the UK and those from the middle east. The research used a written questionnaire in which students were asked about their mathematical influences, tuition, revision, assessment, feelings and beliefs about mathematics. The questionnaire was given to 120 first year undergraduates in engineering at the University of Derby, including 38 from the middle east and 72 from the UK. Follow up interviews with students determined the structure of mathematics education common in the middle east. Discussions with teaching colleagues and the University international student advisor further informed the conclusions. The data indicated observable differences in most areas. The most significant were influences and methods of tuition, where self study, closed question solving and the completion of similar exercises were considered more important by middle eastern students than by UK students. The research concludes that these data show that differences of approaches to mathematics between middle east and UK students are not large and are only one factor determining differential performance. Recommendations are made that more subject specific research is carried out across a wider range of cultural backgrounds to determine the relative importance of academic, cultural and material effects on student performance whilst noting the significant practical advice already published.

KeywordsMathematics; Cultural background; Engineering; International students
Year2012
PublisherLoughborough University
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/285152
hdl:10545/285152
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Publication datesSep 2012
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Deposited25 Apr 2013, 18:29
ISBN9781907632 16 7
JournalEE2012 Conference Papers
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