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School mathematics and university outcomes

By Russell Rimmer and Muir Houston

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between mathematical attainment at school and university outcomes. The paper is motivated by an interest in whether school mathematics provides elements of good preparation for university, regardless of the type of degree studied. This in turn was motivated by the long-standing and wide-spread concern about school mathematics, university outcomes and the implications for individuals’ university experiences and societal needs.\ud \ud An ‘engagement’ theory was applied to model both school and university outcomes in the first year of enrolment at a Scottish university. While mathematics preparation for university study was not extensive, a proportion of students had passes in Higher mathematics, the highest level of school study in Scotland at the time data was gathered.\ud \ud The engagement theory was effective in modelling school- and university outcomes. Students with better school attainments in mathematics had better average marks, maintained greater study loads and were more likely to progress at university, regardless of the extent of the mathematical underpinnings of their disciplines

OAI identifier: oai:eresearch.qmu.ac.uk:1347
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