RESEARCH ON THE MATHEMATICAL REASONING COMPETENCE OF STUDENTS AT THE CHEMISTRY DEGREE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF BARCELONA
Faculty of Chemistry. Universitat de Barcelona (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The ability to develop and apply mathematical thinking in order to solve a variety of problems is a major competence for scientific and technical undergraduate degrees, and in particular for a chemistry program. Here we report a research for the evaluation of the level that the chemistry undergraduate students at the University of Barcelona have on this specific competence. With this purpose we designed a test consisting on five exercises of different degree of difficulty. Students at different courses took the test with the objective of analyzing the evolution of this competence during the degree. We also evaluated possible correlations between the test results and the University Access Test average score and undergraduate qualifications, as well as with the other academic indicators.
The particular analysis of each one of the five questions reveals different observations that deserve attention. The obtained average score is rather low; only a few students successfully answered all the questions whereas the number of those who did not answer any question correctly is much larger. The degree of difficulty that was presumed for each question did not correspond with the average number of correct answers, and this is especially dramatic for the questions that involved reasoning on percentages and proportions. Moreover, the question involving differentiation and integration concepts was not answered by most of the students.
The global analysis of the test scores did not display any correlation between the test results and the University Access Test scores, but a clear correlation with the undergraduate scores is observed. The students that follow the highest progression rate (60 credits per year) answered the test more successfully than those with a lower rate. Moreover, both groups had better results than the group of students that just started the chemistry degree when they took the test. Finally, the students belonging to this latter group who chose Chemistry as a first option to enter the University, exhibited better mathematical reasoning abilities.