An investigation into the level of mathematical performance of students enrolled in their first semester at Memorial University of Newfoundland

Gill, David Langdon (1982) An investigation into the level of mathematical performance of students enrolled in their first semester at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The main purpose of this study was to investigate and attempt to determine the extent to which students, in their first semester at Memorial University, were able to demonstrate comprehension of selected mathematical definitions, terminology, structure and principles, as well as an ability to solve routine and non-routine mathematical problems. -- A secondary purpose of the study was to determine whether, or not, relationships existed between students' performance on the above tasks and, the size of the high school attended, the mathematics programs offered by the high school attended, and the mathematics programs (honours or matriculation) studied by the student while attending high school. -- In attempting to achieve these objectives, 66 items were constructed and tentatively classified as Comprehension, Application, or Problem-Solving level items. A pilot study was then designed to determine the relative suitability and difficulty of these items, and also as an aid in deciding on the format of the instrument. The final instrument consisted of two 9-item subtests referred to as form A and form B with each form containing three items at each of the levels of comprehension, Application, and Problem-Solving. The categorization of test items at these cognitive levels was accomplished in consultation with a panel of three judges, and by using an item-classification model designed for the study. The instrument was administered to 510 students and data collected and analyzed on 335, of whom 170 completed form A and 165 completed form B. -- The results indicated that neither the size of the school, nor the programs offered by the school, bore any significant relationship to the students' performance on the instrument. The students who had studied honours mathematics while attending high school performed significantly better than those who had studied matriculation mathematics, with the noteable exceptions of the Applications and Problem-Solving scores on form A, and the Application score on form B. -- The extent to which the sample of students were able to demonstrate their comprehension of mathematical structure, concepts and procedures, their ability to apply mathematics, and their capacity to engage in productive mathematical thought, gave cause for concern. The correct-response rate to the items on both forms combined, was 40 per cent, 39 per cent, 17 per cent and 32 per cent on the Comprehension, Application, Problem-Solving and total test scores respectively. -- The study concluded with a discussion of the findings, some implications for curricular reform, and also some recommendations for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7748
Item ID: 7748
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 99-104.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1982
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador--Avalon Peninsula--St. John's
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Mathematical ability--Testing

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