UWI: Poor sec­ondary and ter­tiary Maths per­for­mance needs ur­gent in­ter­ven­tion

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL - – Caribbean360

Univer­sity of the West Indies (UWI) of­fi­cials are call­ing for more ac­tion and less talk across the re­gion to con­front the low per­for­mance in math­e­mat­ics at the sec­ondary and ter­tiary level.

Dean in the Fac­ulty of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy at the UWI Cave Hill Cam­pus, Dr Colin Depra­dine, said the sit­u­a­tion has reached the stage where ur­gent in­ter­ven­tion is re­quired.

He was the lead spokesper­son on a sym­po­sium on math­e­mat­ics held yes­ter­day at the univer­sity to de­vise a plan to counter the chal­lenge.

Dr Depra­dine said what is re­quired is in­no­va­tive, sus­tain­able, and ac­tion­able ideas.

“The fact is that we live in a cash-strapped en­vi­ron­ment within the re­gion and so any ap­proaches that we adopt have to be dif­fer­ent from what is nor­mally seen in the world. Copy­ing oth­ers has pretty much failed and will con­tinue to fail. Our sit­u­a­tion is unique to us and we must adopt unique so­lu­tions,” he said.

Dean in the Fac­ulty of So­cial Sci­ences, Dr Justin Robin­son pointed to a “maths pho­bia” in the re­gion, not­ing that there ap­pears be com­pe­tency in the sub­ject area up to 11-plus ex­ams, which rapidly re­v­erses at the sec­ondary school level. That prob­lem, Dr Robin­son said, of­ten spills over into the univer­sity.

“For the last aca­demic year we de­liv­ered in our fac­ulty 132 cour­ses and of those cour­ses there were 31 that had a fail­ure rate higher than 25 per cent and 29 of those cour­ses were math­e­mat­i­cal cour­ses,” he said.

“What we find as well is that in many ar­eas anal­y­sis can be en­hanced if you bring to bear the math­e­mat­ics but a lot of stu­dents, even though they’re do­ing their de­gree, are not get­ting the max­i­mum ben­e­fit be­cause they al­most wind up sit­ting down on the soft side of the dis­ci­pline.”

The theme of the con­fer­ence was ‘Dare to be Dif­fer­ent: Re­vi­tal­iz­ing Math­e­mat­ics’.

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