Dr Ciara Lane attended the recent Eleventh Congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education (CERME 11) in Utrecht, The Netherlands. She participated in the Thematic Working Group 26: Mathematics in the Context of STEM. Ciara presented on a project she is working on with Dr Gráinne Walshe to investigate the mathematical preparedness of first year students for studying science and engineering at third-level.
The presentation described this project which aims to explore students’ mathematical preparedness for STEM education at tertiary level in the Irish context. The study addresses the issue of student retention in STEM degrees by investigating the perceptions of three stakeholders – teachers, students and lecturers – on the mathematical preparedness of students for studying science and engineering at tertiary level. The study also examines the existence and perception of interdisciplinary STEM education in preparing students for the transition to tertiary level STEM learning. The presentation described the rational and design of the pilot study, including the development of questionnaire instruments for teachers, students and lecturers. Preliminary findings were presented relating to students’ second-level education and their enjoyment and confidence in learning mathematics, science and engineering. Lecturers’ perceptions regarding students’ mathematical preparedness were also discussed. Further advancement of the study was outlined including the intention to design targeted support for first year students of science degrees.