June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.456.1 - 13.456.9
EARLY BIRD – Teach mathematics before problems arise Abstract
Mathematical knowledge and abilities are among engineers’ most important tools and are often needed in introductory classes before the relevant topics can be offered in the mathematics classes. The compromise most often used by doing a digression in the non-mathematical classes is neither very satisfying for students and teachers nor is it especially successful.
We introduce the “Early Bird” project allowing beginners to use the often unused period between “Abitur” (German high-school graduation) and beginning of studies in the winter term for attending the mathematics modules of the first semester (Linear Algebra and Calculus I) before the official beginning of studies. With this project, students have the in-depth mathematical knowledge at their disposal considerably earlier. Students of engineering can reduce the duration of their education in mathematics by one semester by preponing the mathematics classes of higher semesters as well.
Mathematics is one of the most important foundations for engineering. From the first semesters on a sound knowledge in mathematics is necessary for being successful in the basic subjects of engineering (e.g. mechanics, physics, thermodynamics etc.). Problems in topics using mathematics will occur whenever mathematical knowledge is needed that a thorough mathematical education can provide not until later. Because of the existing curricula it is not possible to realize a preparatory part of studies that is only devoted to the mathematical education. This also interferes with the legitimate wish of engineering students to identify with the actual engineering topics early and by that not to reduce the motivation in those fields of study that leave little space for the “actual” topic because of many service courses from other fields (not only mathematics). In practice the solution most often used is to do digressions that most of the time can only provide calculation rules that make a schematic treatment of special problems possible. This well-intentioned procedure is usually frustrating for students because they do (can) not understand the reasons for their calculation rules. Whereas every teacher in the mathematics service knows the situation, where students understand those recipe-like introduced concepts belatedly and ask the question why the actual facts have not been explained to them earlier.
2. The “Early Bird”-course
For at least some of the students that begin their studies with the winter term (about one third of the students begin their studies with the summer term) the time between Abitur and the start of the winter term offers a solution for this dilemma. Engineering students will attend (with rare exceptions) the modules Linear Algebra and Calculus I in their first semester. These modules can be offered in a concentrated version before the beginning of the winter term in the semester break before the actual enrollment. Because most of the mathematics service classes are offered every semester (except for one module for electrical engineers is offered in the summer term
Jeschke, S., & Kato, A., & Pfeiffer, O., & Zorn, E. (2008, June), Early Bird Teach Mathematics Before Problems Arise Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4400
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