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What mathematical learning requirements are needed for STEM studies? Representatives from schools and universities jointly developed a catalog for STEM studies in Schleswig-Holstein

September 15th, 2022
What mathematical learning requirements are needed for STEM studies? Representatives from schools and universities jointly developed a catalog for STEM studies in Schleswig-Holstein

© Jürgen Haacks, Uni Kiel

Insufficient knowledge of mathematics is one of the biggest hurdles at the beginning of STEM studies. Accordingly, problems with the mathematical requirements often lead to students dropping out, especially in the first two semesters. The causes of this problem have been the subject of controversial debate throughout Germany for years. For example, the question of too low performance standards at school is countered by the question of too high requirements at universities. So far, this discussion has not produced any practical solutions. In Schleswig-Holstein, mathematics teachers from all parts of the state, employees of the Institute for Quality Development at Schools Schleswig-Holstein (IQSH) and the Ministry for General and Vocational Education, Research, Science and Culture (MBFWK) as well as university teachers from all state universities have therefore set out together to achieve better coordination of mathematical knowledge at the transition from school to university. There were two central goals:

  1. To reach a consensus on the relevant mathematical knowledge and skills that, on the one hand, can realistically be achieved in mathematics classes and, on the other hand, are sufficient for a successful start in STEM studies.
  2. A concrete description of this mathematical knowledge and ability in the form of a catalog including illustrative tasks and solutions, so that it becomes transparent for students interested in studying what is expected of them in STEM studies.

The collaboration of mathematics teachers, IQSH and Ministry staff, and university teachers of STEM courses was jointly organized and funded by the IPN - Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Kiel, IQSH and MBFWK. In a process lasting several years, the participants exchanged views on mathematics learning in school and in higher education and discussed in detail the many aspects of mathematical knowledge and skills that can be relevant for the school-university transition. This was based, on the one hand, on the subject requirements for mathematics as the goals of mathematics teaching at secondary levels I and II and, on the other hand, on the results of the MaLeMINT study conducted by the IPN Kiel, in which the expected mathematical learning requirements for STEM courses of study were compiled by almost 1000 university teachers from all over Germany. As a result of the work process, a comprehensive task catalog is now available that illustrates the mathematical requirements at the school-university transition for STEM courses at universities in Schleswig-Holstein.

The participants will meet again at the IPN Kiel on September 22, 2022. Besides presenting the finished task catalog, they will discuss how the jointly developed catalog can be used in schools, in the second and third phase of teacher training as well as in universities in the future to support the transition to STEM studies. Furthermore, discussions will be held on how the challenges of the school-university transition in Schleswig-Holstein can continue to be addressed jointly in the future. The upcoming meeting thus not only represents the conclusion of a project, but is also the starting signal for a series of annual meetings to continue the initiated constructive dialog.

All information about the MaLeMINT study (in German) can be found on the project website.

 

Contact at IPN:

Prof. Dr. Aiso Heinze
Phone: +49-(0)431-880-3096