Innovative approaches to teaching mathematics in higher education: a review and critique
Mahmoud Abdulwahed, Barbara Jaworski and Adam R. Crawford
This paper provides a snapshot of emerging trends in mathematics teaching in higher education for STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Overwhelmingly, papers identify a focus on conceptual understandings of mathematics in comparison to understanding that is instrumental or procedural. Calls for reform of mathematics teaching have been the basis for a range of studies; responses to these calls have embraced innovative methods for implementing changes in learning and teaching of mathematics, sometimes rooted in constructivist ideology. Observed trends have been categorised in six groups. In many studies, technology is being used as an enabler of reforms. Constraints to implementing new approaches in mathematics teaching are indicated. Discussion of contemporary research questions that could be asked as a result of the shift towards teaching mathematics in innovative ways is provided and is followed by a critique of the underlying theoretical positions, essentially that of constructivism.
Mahmoud Abdulwahed is Assistant Professor and Acting Head of the College Requirement Unit at the College of Engineering, Qatar University, Qatar. He was formerly a researcher and developer in ICT, STEM Education, and Innovation at Loughborough University, where he earned his PhD.
Barbara Jaworski is a Professor of Mathematics Education and Director of Research at the Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University, UK, formerly a Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Agder, Norway, where she recently was awarded an Honorary Doctorate.
Adam Crawford is based within the School of Civil and Building Engineering at Loughborough University, UK, formerly Manager of the Engineering Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University.