As part of a growing collaboration between local schools/colleges and the Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Bath, a small scale study was carried out to explore differences and similarities in teaching probability and calculus in the two institutions. More generally the collaboration was initiated to develop and enhance methods to smooth the transition from A level to undergraduate studies in the mathematical sciences.
There is an increasing interest in developing ways to tackle the mismatch in the mathematical skills which new undergraduates possess and what is required of them by their courses. This problem is not restricted to mathematics degrees alone (although this study is), but has some effect on many courses with a mathematical content.
Diagnostic testing followed by remedial assistance is one common method employed by many university courses to help to ease the problem. In general, however, little attention has been paid to differences in teaching and learning styles across the transition although these must surely influence student success in making the transition. The work in Bath has tried to focus on these aspects of the transition, believing them to be very important. One example of this work is a collaboration between school teachers and lecturers, which has resulted in a booklet about teaching proof across the transition, looking in some depth at notation and general formalism of mathematics in the two institutions.
Vol 2, Issue 4