The Research Division at Cambridge Assessment, a not-for-profit parent organisation of the OCR exam board, is looking to survey current undergraduates and interview lecturers on courses with mathematical content as part of research into the reform of maths and further maths A levels.
The team is looking at how these subjects could be improved to suit the needs of students going on to university to study degree subjects ranging from those which require at least some mathematical understanding and knowledge, such as statistics, to maths degrees themselves.
This research is in response to recent changes proposed by Ofqual and the Department for Education regarding the topics which are taught as part of A-level Maths and Further Maths. These mean that the exam boards are free to introduce some new modules of applied maths. There is a wide variety of content that could be included in any new modules, and therefore we hope to be able to create some new modules which serve students well as they transition into undergraduate statistics.
The team hopes to conduct some research using two methods:
- An online survey of current undergraduates with at least AS-level Maths regarding their experiences of Maths and/or Further Maths to see whether they think any particular topics might have proven useful for them to have studied at A-level; and
- Interviewing lecturers to gauge their opinions on students’ mathematical preparedness for their subject, and what mathematical content and thinking they think their students would do well to know upon commencing their university studies. Areas covered would include:
- The maths entry requirements for undergraduate statistics at your institution (if any) and the motivation for these;
- The maths taught to your students in their first year;
- Areas of maths which your students struggle with; and
- The ways in which maths is assessed in your courses.
The data will be used to feedback to OCR by the end of September to fit into its timeline for content and assessment development; however, the student questionnaire will be left open until December because a larger dataset will result in more reliable and useful data. Any dissemination of this research (both questionnaire and interview) will anonymise both individuals and the university.
UPDATE 19/11/15: The results have been published on the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics website (download the PDF).