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|Title: ||Graduates’ views on the undergraduate mathematics curriculum|
|Authors: ||Inglis, Matthew|
|Issue Date: ||2012|
|Publisher: ||National HE STEM Programme and The Higher Education Academy, Maths Stats and OR Network (MSOR Network)|
|Citation: ||INGLIS, M., CROFT, T. and MATTHEWS, J., 2012. Graduates’ views on the undergraduate mathematics curriculum. National HE STEM Programme and MSOR Network.|
|Abstract: ||In Winter 2011 we surveyed the views of 428 mathematics graduates from the 2008/9
graduating cohort. Each graduate was asked to reflect on the knowledge/skills they believed
that they developed during their mathematical study, and to assess how useful these skills have
been during their career to date. We were also able to benchmark these data against an earlier
survey of incoming undergraduates’ expectations.
Our overall goal was to determine whether the higher education mathematics syllabus
adequately prepares students for the workplace.
We found a mixed picture:
• An overwhelming majority of graduates believed that they successfully developed generic
cognitive skills during their studies (e.g. logical reasoning, critical thinking and problem solving).
Furthermore, there was widespread agreement that these skills are useful in the workplace.
• However, fewer students believed that their studies had developed generic non-cognitive
skills such as making presentations, oral and written communication, team working or
computer literacy. All these skills were considered to be useful in the workplace, but are
apparently not well developed by studying undergraduate mathematics. Furthermore, we
found that incoming undergraduates expected to develop these non-cognitive generic skills
during their mathematical study, suggesting that there is a mismatch between students’
expectations and outcomes.
• When asked to select what skill graduates wished they had had the opportunity to develop
more during their mathematical studies, the most commonly selected was “applying
mathematics to the real world”. Over 90% of incoming undergraduates expected to develop
this skill, whereas only around 60% of graduates believed that they had.
This report raises two issues to consider. First, whether the mathematical community is (or
should be) satisfied with the range of skills that graduates perceive the current higher education
curriculum to develop. And second, if the community is satisfied by the current situation, how
the apparent mismatch we observed between incoming students’ expectations and graduates’
perceived outcomes can be addressed.|
|Description: ||This is a report.|
|Sponsor: ||The production of this report was financially supported by a grant from the MSOR Network
as part of the Mathematical Sciences Strand of the National HE STEM Programme (to M.I. & T.C.)
and a Royal Society Worshipful Company of Actuaries Research Fellowship (to M.I.).|
|Appears in Collections:||Research Reports (Mathematics Education Centre)|
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