Science and Engineering Students’ Difficulties With Fractions At Entry-Level To University
Johanna Coetzee, Kuttickattu J. Mammen
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This study was carried out at a South African university. The aim of the study was to test entry-level students’ fractions skills in order to facilitate teaching at appropriate levels. The sample consisted of 94 first-year entry level students (54 mainstream and 40 extended stream) who were enrolled for national diplomas in science and engineering, out of a population of 120 students. The instrument had 20 items, including three multiple choice questions (MCQs). The data were analyzed using Microsoft Excel 2013. The main finding was that entry-level students enrolled for engineering and science diplomas performed poorly in a test of numeracy skills. The average score (47.8%) was regarded as a cause for concern, especially considering that the test was pitched at Grade 8 level. The study also found that students struggled to apply proportional reasoning when dealing with word problems. Mathematics teachers and lecturers need to be aware of students’ difficulties and ought to attempt to assist them to overcome such challenges. It is hoped that this paper will be useful to mathematics curriculum implementers at school level, subject advisors at the district level, pre-service teacher educators at Teachers’ colleges and universities, and university lecturers teaching mathematics at first year level.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

INT ELECT J MATH ED, Volume 12, Issue 3, October 2017, 281-310

Publication date: 18 Jun 2017

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