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First-Year Mathematics and Its Application to Science: Evidence of Transfer of Learning to Physics and Engineering

Sydney School of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia
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Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8010008
Received: 30 November 2017 / Revised: 2 January 2018 / Accepted: 4 January 2018 / Published: 9 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Science Education)
Transfer of mathematical learning to science is seen as critical to the development of education and industrial societies, yet it is rarely interrogated in applied research. We present here research looking for evidence of transfer from university mathematics learning in semester one to second semester sciences/engineering courses (n = 1125). A transfer index measure was derived from extant university assessments, calculated on content-matched questions requiring mathematical concepts and skills in students’ completed mathematics and science/engineering exams. We found that transfer could be measured in this way, and present path models of how transfer is associated with educational attainment and other factors. However, transfer was observed only in physics (n = 258) and engineering (n = 426); biology and molecular bioscience assessments did not provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their mathematical learning. In physics and engineering courses, mathematical attainment had a strong, direct, positive effect, with transfer of learning providing an additional direct and mediating effect upon students’ performance in these subjects. In physics and engineering, transfer was also associated with higher levels of educational attainment in general. This new, applied approach to examining transfer trialed here may provide opportunities for analysing, evaluating, and improving cross-disciplinary transfer of learning within universities. View Full-Text
Keywords: transfer; learning; quantitative; science; mathematics; interdisciplinary; university; physics; engineering; STEM transfer; learning; quantitative; science; mathematics; interdisciplinary; university; physics; engineering; STEM
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MDPI and ACS Style

Nakakoji, Y.; Wilson, R. First-Year Mathematics and Its Application to Science: Evidence of Transfer of Learning to Physics and Engineering. Educ. Sci. 2018, 8, 8. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8010008

AMA Style

Nakakoji Y, Wilson R. First-Year Mathematics and Its Application to Science: Evidence of Transfer of Learning to Physics and Engineering. Education Sciences. 2018; 8(1):8. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8010008

Chicago/Turabian Style

Nakakoji, Yoshitaka; Wilson, Rachel. 2018. "First-Year Mathematics and Its Application to Science: Evidence of Transfer of Learning to Physics and Engineering" Educ. Sci. 8, no. 1: 8. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8010008

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