A study in higher education calculus and students' learning styles

Alamolhodaei, Hassan (1996) A study in higher education calculus and students' learning styles. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This research is devoted to focussing on the influence of different learning style on the performance of undergraduate students in various parts of calculus.
In carrying out the study, calculus materials were classified into four main categories (Z4,Z5,Z6,Cals) and, for the Iranian students, the results of their mathematical performance in the university entrance examination is labelled (En) to identify their grounding in high school mathematics at the beginning of the calculus course in higher education. Also, in the present study, students' performance (weakness) in the manipulation of mathematical notation and logical discussion is called (Z1) category and (Cal) indicates students' total achievement in calculus examination which is, in fact, the students' performance on the combination of the categories (Z4,Z5,Z6). These calculus categories are described in Chapter 5. However in short term, multi-conceptual and procedural tasks are classified as (Z4). The (Z5) category is defined as the translation processes between mathematical abstraction (analytic/symbolic) and (pictorial/visual) forms of calculus materials. Moreover, multi-skilled, transferable and procedural skills are labelled as (Z6) category. It should be noted that these categories are interrelated in a scheme to exhibit activities in calculus.

572 students participated in the experimental part of this study and were selected from two Iranian universities (Sabzvar University and Mashhad University) and Glasgow University in Scotland, U.K.

During the period of the study, the samples of students were subjected to some psychological tests in order to assign their Field-dependent/Field-independent and Convergent/Divergent learning styles.

It was found throughout the study that the most effective combination of learning styles which emerged from the interacting picture of all the psychological factors used in the research, were field-independent/convergent (F1+Con) in Iran, and field-independent/divergent (FI+Div) in Scotland in performing on the calculus. On the other hand, the combination of field-dependent and convergent styles (FD+Con) could lessen achievement in calculus by mathematics/physics students, and field-dependent and divergent styles (FD+Div) would lessen attainment in calculus by engineering students.

In addition, when the mean scores in calculus categories were calculated for various groups of students with different learning styles, the convergent thinkers (Con) were found to be best in (Z6), while divergent thinkers (Div) exhibited higher performance in (Z5). These findings demonstrate that the Con/Div way of thinking is the most effective in influencing performance in different areas of calculus, the FI/FD factor takes the second position. All these findings have been combined to form a model which emerges at the end of this thesis.

Moreover, in Chapters 3 and 4, a comparison is made between calculus in secondary (high school) and higher education in Iran and Scotland, focussing on content, teaching order, learning objectives and teaching methods.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Q Science > QA Mathematics
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics > Mathematics
Supervisor's Name: Supervisor, not known
Date of Award: 1996
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:1996-1259
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:36
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/1259

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