Comparative Study of Teaching Computational Mathematics in Two Different Learning Environments

University dissertation from Lund University / Centre for Mathematical Sciences /LTH

Abstract: This thesis aims to investigate necessary adaptations in the design of a mathematics course when it is transferred from one cultural environment to another. We focus on an elementary course in computational mathematics with Python taught at Lund University, Sweden, and at Soran University, Kurdistan/Iraq. This project holds two main parts. The first part elucidates how the necessary changes in teaching style and teaching content can be determined, how to organize the course for best results and how to apprise learning outcomes. We primarily investigate how variation theory affects the course given in Lund and determine whether it is necessary to modify the way the theory is used when the course is given in Kurdistan. Students in both environments were interviewed and observed.
The second part shows how different values of mathematics motivate students to study this subject (input) and it also shows students expectation of their future careers (output). We aspire to increase the popularity of mathematics and the motivation among students to choose mathematics as a major. Principally we adapt the curriculum to a more practice oriented view on this subject. We collected data for this part by asking students and mathematicians who are working in companies to fill out questionnaires. Two teaching experiments were conducted in Lund and in Soran in order to collect material for the first part of this study, and another two experiments were used for the second part.
In this thesis, results and conclusions from both parts are presented. Our findings in the first part determined the necessary changes in teaching style and curriculum when we transfer this course to Soran and also determined the changes of the way of teaching. The results also indicate how future experiments in the second part need to be modified. The conclusion of the second part refers to the lack of students’ experienced connection between mathematical concepts and their application in real life problems. Our observation led to the deduction that the experience of the practical use of mathematics increases the interest of bigger student groups in mathematics. The curriculum of some of mathematics courses in Soran should be changed towards applied mathematics.

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