Students’ Perception of Relevance of Physics and Mathematics in Engineering Majors

Zavala, Genaro; Dominguez, Angeles; MIllan, Arturo C.; Gonzalez, José M.


Students’ perception of relevance of physics and mathematics in engineering majorsIn Chilean universities there are a large proportion of engineering students who abandon theirstudies within the first year. There is a variety of reasons for this phenomenon. This highdropping out rate could be related to failing first year physics and math courses (sometimes morethan once). However, that relation has not been studied in Chile. In general, there is a consensusin the literature that these two phenomena (failing courses and dropping out) are caused in somedegree by the limited preparation on these sciences that students receive in precollege educationas well as by the traditional teaching strategies, (being lecturing a quite common teachingstrategy in physics and math courses). However, this study takes a different approach. Webelieve that another strong reason for failing the course and dropping out of school might berelated to students’ perception of relevance of physics and mathematics of their professionalcareer, in this case, engineering. This study’s population consists of 2000 students taking firstyear physics and math courses in a large private university in Chile. A Likert-scale instrument isused in which students choose from a completely agree-to-completely disagree scale ofstatements that are related to relevance of physics and mathematics to both the applicability ofthese classes in their upper division engineering courses and students’ future career.The results of this study discuss on three aspects: 1) the comparison of students’ perceptions ofthe relevance of physics and mathematics of scholar engineering and professional engineeringpractices, 2) the comparison of students’ perceptions of the relevance of physics to that ofmathematics and 3) gender differences on those perceptions. As conclusions, we present somerecommendations to instructors and course designers.

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Fecha de publicación: 2015
Año de Inicio/Término: June 14-17, 2015
Página final: 22