Project Maths 'must address issues'
The project maths syllabus has had a broadly positive effect on students' learning but must address remaining challenges if it is to achieve its goals, according to three reports to be published today.
The first research reports published on project maths outline teachers' attitudes towards the syllabus, the standard of text books covering the curriculum and learning outcomes for students.
Teachers identified positive changes in a number of aspects of students' learning including their understanding of statistics and probability, geometry and trigonometry, their ability to solve real-life problems and to work collaboratively.
Project maths was developed to enable students TO relate mathematical concepts to real world applications. However, according to one report, teachers often struggle to implement the syllabus correctly because of time constraints, and thus end up reverting to conventional, exam-focused teaching practices.
The survey also recorded a steep drop-off in the amount of students who continue to study higher-level mathematics from Junior Certificate until Leaving Certificate. While 49 per cent of students study higher level in third year, just 20 per cent keep it on into sixth year.
Another report identifies shortcomings in the available text-books. It found that although the books “display a genuine attempt to match the intentions of project maths”, they all fail to effectively support the curriculum.
The report notes “a mismatch between the textbook expectations and project maths expectations”. A spokeswoman from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment said the findings of the report have been forwarded to education publishers and will inform the content of future project maths text-books.
A report into student achievement, learning and motivation found students were broadly confident in their abilities across all strands of the revised syllabus, but noted “students find tasks requiring higher order skills (such as reasoning and an ability to transfer knowledge to new contexts) more difficult than tasks which are more mechanical in demand”.
Statistically, Irish students were found to perform better than their international peers in statistics and probability but they struggled with algebra and calculus. Even higher level Leaving Certificate students found functions difficult.