Mathematics and dumping lectures?: another perspective on the shift towards learner pragmatism

Paper


Cretchley, Patricia. 2005. "Mathematics and dumping lectures?: another perspective on the shift towards learner pragmatism." Bulmer, Michael, MacGillivray, Helen and Varsavsky, Cristina (ed.) Kingfisher Delta '05: 5th Southern Hemisphere Conference on Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics Teaching and Learning. Fraser Island, Australia 22 - 26 Nov 2005 Brisbane, Australia.
Paper/Presentation Title

Mathematics and dumping lectures?: another perspective on the shift towards learner pragmatism

Presentation TypePaper
Authors
AuthorCretchley, Patricia
EditorsBulmer, Michael, MacGillivray, Helen and Varsavsky, Cristina
Journal or Proceedings TitleProceedings of the Fifth Southern Hemisphere Conference on Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics Teaching and Learning (Kingfisher Delta'05)
Year2005
Place of PublicationBrisbane, Australia
ISBN1864998407
Conference/EventKingfisher Delta '05: 5th Southern Hemisphere Conference on Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics Teaching and Learning
Event Details
Kingfisher Delta '05: 5th Southern Hemisphere Conference on Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics Teaching and Learning
Event Date
22 to end of 26 Nov 2005
Event Location
Fraser Island, Australia
Abstract

A provocative report by Dolnicar [1] proposes that a shift towards learner pragmatism “defines the reality” of
the current tertiary learning environment. It identified a group of so-called “pragmatics” (17% of the students
investigated, and mainly Commerce and IT students) who claimed that they attended lectures almost solely to
gain essential course information, as against enjoyment or to learn. This group is reported to have claimed the
lowest levels of lecture attendance, yet delivered “the highest grade point average of the students in the
study”. Are Mathematics students pragmatic in the sense that they only come to lectures to obtain essential
course information, not to learn or enjoy? Are Mathematics lectures valuable in that they have an effect on
performance? I present data from 85 Mathematics and Engineering students in an Algebra & Calculus course
in Australia, in which all resources were readily accessible outside of lectures. Students attending class two
thirds of the way through the course achieved statistically higher levels of performance on all but one of the
course assessment items (significant at the .05 level) than those not in class at that point. “Strategic” learning
styles, which may characterise the “pragmatics” described in [1], yielded only small non-significant
correlations with performance. Lecture attendance has diminished very little in this Mathematics course,
despite full and easy access to all course information and materials, online and in hardcopy. Hence there was
little evidence of the pragmatism reported in [1] for Commerce and IT students. A follow-up study indicated
that mathematics attendees regarded lectures as an efficient and companionable way to meet new material and
build understanding and confidence. Lectures were motivating, enjoyable, kept students on track, provided a
sense of community and common purpose, and clearly suited those who prefer learning by hearing, seeing and
asking, rather than reading. The strong relationship between attendance and mathematics performance
indicates the value of explicit teaching. Clearly ICT alternatives need quality resourcing and careful support.

Keywordslearner pragmatism, student achievement, lectures, strategic learning style
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390402. Education assessment and evaluation
390109. Mathematics and numeracy curriculum and pedagogy
Public Notes

Author retains copyright.

Byline AffiliationsDepartment of Mathematics and Computing
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