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Title: Maths? Why Not?
Contributor(s): McPhan, Greg  (author); Morony, Will (author); Pegg, John Edward  (author); Cooksey, Ray Wagner  (author); Lynch, Trevor  (author)
Corporate Author: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Publication Date: 2008
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Abstract: Concerns are currently being expressed about Australia's capacity to produce a critical mass of young people with the requisite mathematical background and skills to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to maintain and enhance this nation's competitiveness. These concerns permeate all levels of learning and skill acquisition, with programs to assess mathematical achievement of primary and early secondary students regularly identifying areas that require concerted action. Internationally, Australia's 15 year old students perform very well on the mathematical literacy scale in terms of the knowledge and skills as investigated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for 2002 and 2003 (OECD 2000, 2004). In addition, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for 1994/5 and for 2002/3 revealed that Australian Year 8 students' achievement in mathematics was significantly higher than the international average in all content areas considered (Thomson & Fleming, 2004). Along with these indicators of achievement in the early years of secondary schooling, there is encouraging national evidence indicating that these levels of mathematical literacy are translating into increased enrolments in senior mathematics courses. There is a paradox, however, in higher-level courses declining and enrolments in elementary or terminating mathematics courses increasing (Thomas, 2000; Barrington, 2006). This trend is not an encouraging basis from which to improve the percentage of university graduates from mathematics-rich courses that lead into STEM careers. Against this background of perceived need and encouraging student performance in early secondary schooling, the research question identified for the project was: 'Why is it that capable students are not choosing to take higher-level mathematics in the senior years of schooling?' The answers are deceptively simple. Nevertheless, it was anticipated that responses to it would provide important insights into a number of critical issues underpinning the learning and teaching of mathematics in Australia and provide a platform for constructive action to address STEM skill shortages.
Publication Type: Report
Publisher: Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR)
Place of Publication: Canberra, ACT, Australia
ISBN: 192120818X
Field of Research (FoR) 2008: 130208 Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 930101 Learner and Learning Achievement
HERDC Category Description: R1 Report
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Appears in Collections:Report
The National Centre of Science, Information and Communication Technology, and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR)

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