Introducing a group research project into a second-level mathematics course

Susan Worsley, Anthony Bracken, Katrina Hibberd, Phillip Isaac

Abstract


In 2008 The University of Queensland introduced a revised Bachelor of Science degree that required a stronger emphasis on research studies. In order to give students a taste of mathematics research, a group research project was introduced into a second level mathematics course. The inclusion of a group research project also strengthened the second year mathematics program by addressing some of the desired graduate attributes relating to indepth knowledge and communication skills. Previously, there had been little opportunity for students to research, review and critique an article or give a seminar presentation in a mathematics course. This project aimed to address these issues as well as to promote and encourage students’ interest in mathematics.

The chosen second level course on applied mathematical analysis usually has enrolments of 70-90 students and most students with an interest in mathematics take this course. The students were required to form groups, investigate a topic chosen from a list, give a group presentation and write a report in the form of a short journal article. The topics were chosen to demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of mathematics and encouraged students to find and investigate other papers related to their topic.

In this paper we cover the development and implementation of the project. We also present the results of the
questionnaire collected on completion of the project together with some reflections of those involved in the project. The discussion evaluates the success of the group project at achieving its objectives and suggests future improvements.

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