The background impact in HEI math lectures: an experience in math in the 1st year of Accounting and Management Degree


It is a fact, and far from being a new one, that students have been entering Higher Education courses with many different backgrounds in terms of secondary school programs they attended. The impact of these basic skills is a general and worldwide challenge, fundamentally when facing some specific “constructive” subjects like foreign languages and Mathematics. Working with students with an extensive variety of Math qualifications is an outrageous challenge when they enter an advanced Math course, leading to an almost generalized expectations’ failure - from students enrolled in course and from their teachers, who feel powerless in trying to monitor knowledge construction from completely different “starting points”. If teachers’ "haste" is average, more than half of the students do not “go along” and give up, even before experiencing any kind of evaluation procedure. On the contrary, if the “speed” is too low, others are discouraged (feeling not progressing at all) and the teacher runs the risk of not meeting the minimum objectives (general and specific) of its course, which may have a negative impact on students’ future training development. Failure in Mathematics, despite being a recurrent and global issue, does not have any “magical solution”, however, in general, teachers in this area seem untiring, searching, investigating, trying and implementing new and old “recipes” to tackle and demystify this subject. In this article we describe a project developed in a Math course, with the first year students from an Accounting and Management bachelor degree, and its outcomes since it was brought to practice, revealing its impact in students’ success, from approval to dropout rates, in this course. We will shortly describe students’ differentiated Math backgrounds, their results in a pre-assessment analysis and how we try to deal with these differences and level them up, having in mind the same “finish line”. One should never forget that all these students where officially accepted in higher education institutions, so they are ones’ reality, the reality of institutions whose name one should value and strive to defend

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Repositório Científico do Instituto Politécnico do Porto

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oai:recipp.ipp.pt:10400.22/8437Last time updated on 11/8/2016

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