As a result of the transition from school to university for students majoring in mathematics, changes become evident in both the formal organization of learning and in the character of the subject itself. Especially in the first year of university, the character of mathematics as a scientific discipline and in particular mathematical proving prevails, whereas key school activities such as arithmetic and algebraic manipulation and modeling real-world problems have little relevance. This can lead to students’ unrealistic expectations about the mathematical demands at university level which may hinder their individual learning processes. In the first weeks of study, we analyzed the development of these expectations in a survey comprised of 309 students with a major in mathematics. Then at the end of the first semester, we investigated the influence of these expectations on students’ success. We established that when entering university, students’ expectations can be judged as being mostly realistic. Furthermore, students successfully adapted their expectations during the first semester. Additionally, the influence of realistic expectations on the students’ success during this timespan was significant, but small. Based on these results, we discuss whether talking about learners’ expectations at the beginning of a course of studies makes sense.
Translated title of the contributionWhich mathematical demands do students expect in the first semester of their mathematics studies?
Original languageGerman
JournalJournal für Mathematik-Didaktik
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)205-228
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2014
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    Research areas

  • Competitions/out of school learning

ID: 483767