Guides & Case Studies resources
A Game Show Format for First Year Problem Classes in Mathematical Modelling
Problem classes are traditionally used in the teaching of mathematics. For a first year Chemical Engineering course in mathematical modelling, a quiz based on the TV programme Ã¢??Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?Ã¢?? has been introduced, in a problem class supporting lectures. Following group work, with one set problem per group, students present their solutions to the rest of the class. The quiz follows the presentations. Each group is represented by a volunteer, who attempts to win chocolate prizes. The questions are both general, and specific to the particular problem done by the group. Besides reinforcing earlier learning, the quiz is fun. Certainly it appears to have been appreciated by two successive student cohorts. The lecturer and postgraduate demonstrator have also enjoyed the problem classes more than traditional formats.
Analysing Random Processes using MATLAB at the Master's Level
MATLAB is the chosen simulation environment that is used throughout the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering. MATLAB is used by the students at several levels. It is used in earlier years as an 'Engineering' calculator that is useful for scientific calculations and visualisation particularly for complex analysis. As the course develops MATLAB becomes invaluable for investigating the time-frequency characterisation of signals and systems. MATLAB also gives the students an environment that allows them to write programming code in a 'C' like format. Finally MATLAB facilitates greater contextual teaching and problem based learning, which has become increasingly important in current Electronic and Electrical Engineering.
Developing the Interface between Engineering and Mathematics at Edinburgh University
A few years ago the department of mathematics at Edinburgh looked at the problem of interfacing between mathematics and engineering courses and came up with a system to enable greater student understanding. The implementation of this system and how it is helping students is reviewed in this case study.
Diagnostic Testing within Institutions - Anglia Polytechnic University
The Department of Mathematics, Physics and Electronics (School of Applied Sciences Anglia Polytechnic University, Cambridge) uses DIAGNOSYS to administer a computer-based diagnostic test, testing the mathematical knowledge of primarily foundation year students.
Diagnostic Testing within Institutions - Coventry University
Diagnostic testing at Coventry University encompasses various disciplines. Co-ordinated by the Maths Support Centre, the test is used to assess the students' ability and target appropriate mathematics support as early as possible. This case study reviews the testing process and how it is linked to appropriate support material, advice and learning resources.
Diagnostic Testing within Institutions - University of Bristol
All students are tested via two computer-based tests each consisting of 10 multi-choice questions (MCQs). These tests are set from a large bank of questions using the Ã¢??TALÃ¢?? (Teach And Learn) computer system developed at the University of Bristol. The topics covered include arithmetic, algebra, geometry, functions, calculus, and probability. A Ã¢??leave unansweredÃ¢?? option is provided and negative marking used to discourage guessing. The tests are accessed through a Web interface, so in principle could be accessed from anywhere. It has been run with large-scale simultaneous access and, although a little slow, is relatively robust.
Diagnostic Testing within Institutions - University of Newcastle upon Tyne
School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering DIAGNOSYS has been used by the Department of Engineering Mathematics, now the School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering, since 1993. By 1996 there were five departments involved in using the software. Based on an interview with the administering lecturer and a student questionnaire this case study examines the procedure, results and student responses to the diagnostic testing process.
Exploiting Synergies between Teaching Mathematics and Programming to Second Year Engineering Student
Students in Aeronautical Engineering are taught MATLAB in the first year to provide them with programming skills and for use in later courses. In the second year MATLAB is used to enhance the teaching of linear algebra and to apply the mathematical techniques to engineering problems.
Historical Study of Correlation between A-Level Grades and Subsequent Performance
The subject of A-Level mathematics has attracted a great deal of political and academic controversy. Those who represent the academic community in Higher Education have argued for over a decade that the standards of A-Level mathematics have been declining and continue to do so. Elsewhere it has been argued that much of the decline perceived by those who teach in engineering and science departments is more likely to be attributed to the very substantial national decline in entry standards to engineering and science courses rather than any real change in A-Level standards. Using available statistics, a study of the electronics students at York set out to discover whether these questions could be answered and the results were published in a detailed paper  of which the following is a summary.
Mathematical Methods for Third Year Materials Scientists at Cambridge University
Mathematical Methods is a revision course for third year materials scientists. Started in 1997, there is no formal examination. It consists of six lectures, an examples class and a questions sheet, and provides revision of past topics, with examples relating to third year materials courses and a background for the fourth year. This case study reviews the course and its role in providing the student with a mathematical foundation in the context of materials science.
MATLAB-Based Minimal-Mathematics Introduction to Engineering Topics
The problem of declining mathematical skills and appetite amongst university entrants is well known. In order to soften the impact that this makes on student recruitment and retention in the School of Electronics at the University of Glamorgan, it became necessary to explore a 'minimal-math' or 'engineering-first' teaching approach. MATLAB-based graphical user interfaces, simulations and animations are employed to give students an unclouded insight into the engineering concept and the underlying physical considerations, and a clear appreciation of the interplay of the parameters involved. This type of first encounter helps to stimulate the students' interest in the subject, erects crucial knowledge pegs, and lays a solid foundation to support a more mathematically rigorous approach during later encounters with the topic when any deficiencies in math skills will have been remedied.
National Perspective on Diagnostic Testing
Examines the use of diagnostic testing amongst engineering, mathematics and physical science departments.
Process Systems Engineering - A Course in Computing and Numerical Methods for Second Year Chemical Engineers
We describe a course aimed at providing chemical engineering students with an understanding of the fundamental classes of equations which occur in chemical engineering, the mathematical basis of their numerical solution methods and the basic methods of implementing these in a high level computing language. The course thus integrates elements of both conceptual and practical mathematics and computing.
Simulation of Linear and Non-linear Dynamic Systems using Spreadsheets
EXCEL has been used to provide simulation facilities in support of teaching control to engineers. This dictates a sampled data approach which fits in naturally with digital implementation of control. The technique also allows students to explore the affects of non-linearities in systems such as control signal saturation. It provides a Ã¢??hands-onÃ¢?? dimension which students find valuable. The approach is capable of use with other dynamic systems and is not restricted to teaching control.
Student Support Based on the Three Stream System at UMIST
UMIST introduced a three level course structure to help students entering civil engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, chemistry, mechanical engineering, computing and optometry to cope with the maths content of each of the courses. Based on previous qualifications and a diagnostic test, students are allocated places within the P, Q and R stream.
Teaching mathematics to first year engineering students with a wide range of mathematical ability
The approach to teaching Maths to Year 1 students in the Department of Engineering underwent a major reorganisation prior to the start of the 2002/3 session. The aim was to provide an optimum framework within which students studying four different engineering disciplines could be taught Maths within the resource constraints imposed by student numbers, and to cope with the extremely wide range of their Mathematical abilities on entry to these degree programmes. After much discussion, students are now taught their Year 1 Maths topics in two different cohorts, streamed according to initial Maths ability, and using different approaches in terms of the depth of understanding expected. This also involves the use of different assessments. This approach has been much more popular and created far fewer difficulties than the previous system which divided the students into two groups according to degree programme.
The Changing Relationship: Civil/Structural Engineers and Maths
Mathematics is vital for civil engineers but its role is changing. Arup chairman Duncan Michael  has argued for less emphasis on the teaching of mathematics. Here we report on a necessary change of emphasis but also argue the importance of a good mathematical education for all engineers
The Maths Revision Booklet as Part of a Programme of Support at University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Computer-based diagnostic testing has been used for new engineering students for some years at University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Follow-up support has been available only in some departments. In summer 2001, new students were issued (in advance or on arrival) with a Ã¢??Maths Revision BookletÃ¢?? covering the basic maths topics that we didnÃ¢??t intend to teach. Following the diagnostic test, lunchtime classes were offered for six weeks, based on the booklet, for those students who wished to attend.We report on the student opinion, analysis of diagnostic and examination performance.
Use of Mathcad to Assist in the Teaching of Second Year Engineering Mathematics
Mathcad is used in all years of the engineering mathematics course to enable students of civil engineering to investigate real engineering problems which have no analytical solution but which illustrate important mathematical concepts. In the second year engineering mathematics course Mathcad is used to assist in the teaching of numerical solutions of second order boundary value differential equations. Comparisons are made between classical analytical solutions and the numerical solutions.
Using Mathematics Diagnostic Testing on Engineering Courses
Even as long ago as the mid-1990s, a survey for the Open Learning Foundation  found that most universities were using some form of mathematics diagnostic testing on their first-year undergraduates, usually during Induction Week. With the advent of computer-aided mathematics diagnostic systems such as DIAGNOSYS , it has become easier to obtain an off-the-shelf diagnostic system. Even so, many people still use their own in-house tests. This study considers one such example.
Using Technology to Teach Mathematics to First Year Engineers
This case study reports on the approach at one institution to helping first year engineering students to acquire the mathematical skills they need. The approach involves a range of support mechanisms, and the concerted use of technology as well as paper and pencil methods. Changes in curriculum, pedagogy and indeed assessment style have all proven necessary.
Using the Graphics Calculator to Support Mathematics for Engineering Students
For first and second year engineering students at Napier University, the TI-83 graphics calculator plays a major role in an integrated technological approach to mathematics. This case study reviews the process of integration and its current position in the teaching of students.