Bridging the gap: teaching university mathematics to high school students

Patrick John Higgins, D'Arcy Frederick Mullamphy, Shaun Richard Belward


Over recent years there has been a lot of emphasis placed on the drop in standards of students entering first year university mathematics in Australia. The tertiary sector struggles to handle this increasing gap and, with pressure to maintain student numbers, a common response has been to reduce the difficulty level of the first year mathematics courses. This approach has had limited success, with students passing first year mathematics but lacking preparation for the higher years. If realistic change is to be made in bridging this gap, then the problem needs to be addressed at both the tertiary and secondary level. We investigate the successes and potential failures of running a tertiary level mathematics course over five years at four high schools in North Queensland. This has been a genuine team approach by both university academics and high school mathematics teachers and forged solid links between the sectors. The presence of academics in the high school classrooms as well as students and teachers attending university activities led to a greater understanding of perceived difficulties on both sides. The `Mathematics into high schools' program proves to be a small but significant start in helping to bridge the secondary-tertiary gap.



Mathematics education, highschool

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ANZIAM Journal, ISSN 1446-8735, copyright Australian Mathematical Society.