Learning and Teaching Maths
in Biosciences
Jenny Koenig, Lucy Cavendish
College, University of Cambridge
Dawn Hawkins
Angl...
A survey of the mathematics landscape within
bioscience in UK Higher Education (2011)
Preparedness from school:
• content
...
Preparedness: content
School maths qualifications upon entry at 24 UK HE’s
GCSE grades for Bioscience degrees
MEI (Mathematics in Education
and Industry) 2010
C Grade at GCSE Maths means:
• no scientific notation
• very weak algebra...
logarithms and calculus are in AS maths
A level Chemistry and Biology contain very little maths
Report from SCORE, “Mathem...
Preparedness: attitudes
• “fear of maths”, “maths-phobia”
• “treat maths as some kind of mystical dark art, sent to
terror...
Maths content in bioscience degrees
US-UK Comparisons
Reports:
BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future
Research Biologists (2003)
http://www....
What next?
What are the key questions now?
• How do we change attitudes to maths?
– positive reinforcement – can this be done in larg...
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Learning and Teaching Maths in Biosciences

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Presentation at the Leicester Biological Sciences Pedagogical Research Group on Tuesday 17th September 2013, by Jenny Koenig (Cambridge) on Learning and Teaching Maths in the Biosciences. http://lebioscience.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/learning-and-teaching-maths-in.html

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  • 24 institutions with good data – equal proportions of Russell Group; other pre-1992; post-1992
  • Learning and Teaching Maths in Biosciences

    1. 1. Learning and Teaching Maths in Biosciences Jenny Koenig, Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge Dawn Hawkins Anglia Ruskin University Biomaths Education Network Nathan Pike Higher Education Academy US-UK Comparisons Study
    2. 2. A survey of the mathematics landscape within bioscience in UK Higher Education (2011) Preparedness from school: • content • attitudes Maths in bioscience degrees: • pedagogy • content http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/ftp/report
    3. 3. Preparedness: content School maths qualifications upon entry at 24 UK HE’s
    4. 4. GCSE grades for Bioscience degrees
    5. 5. MEI (Mathematics in Education and Industry) 2010 C Grade at GCSE Maths means: • no scientific notation • very weak algebra • no graphs of exponential or reciprocal functions • no trigonometry • no box plots or histograms What do the grades mean in practice? http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/ftp/resour
    6. 6. logarithms and calculus are in AS maths A level Chemistry and Biology contain very little maths Report from SCORE, “Mathematics within A level Science 2010 Examinations” (2012) http://www.score-education.org/policy/qualifications-and- assessment/mathematics-in-science
    7. 7. Preparedness: attitudes • “fear of maths”, “maths-phobia” • “treat maths as some kind of mystical dark art, sent to terrorise biologists” • “the key difficulty is not so much lack of knowledge as lack of confidence” • “the maths content of a Biology degree comes as quite a shock…” • “when they see the application for themselves, many do shift their opinion and attitude towards mathematics”
    8. 8. Maths content in bioscience degrees
    9. 9. US-UK Comparisons Reports: BIO2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists (2003) http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10497 Vision and Change in Undergraduate Education: A call to action. AAAS. (2011). http://visionandchange.org/finalreport/ Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. (2012). http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp /pcast-executive-report-final_2-13-12.pdf
    10. 10. What next?
    11. 11. What are the key questions now? • How do we change attitudes to maths? – positive reinforcement – can this be done in large classes? – context / authenticity – can this impact upon the emotional response? – problem-solving approaches – mathematical modelling approaches • Why don’t students expect to see maths in biology degrees? • How do we correct the mismatch in content from school to university?

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