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ERIC Number: ED518599
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 45
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 28
Difficulties First-Year University Mathematics Students Have in Reading Their Mathematics Textbook. Technical Report. No. 2009-1
Shepherd, Mary D.; Selden, Annie; Selden, John
Online Submission
This exploratory study examined the experiences and difficulties certain first-year university students displayed in reading new passages from their mathematics textbooks. We interviewed eleven precalculus and calculus students who were considered to be good at mathematics, as indicated by high ACT mathematics scores. These students were also good general readers, as indicated by their high ACT reading comprehension scores and by their use of many of the metacognitive strategies developed in reading comprehension research. To gauge the effectiveness of students' reading of passages from their mathematics textbooks, we asked them to attempt straightforward mathematical tasks, based directly on what they had just read. Our students demonstrated enough difficulties with these tasks, that it appears they do not benefit from reading their textbooks as much as their teachers or textbook authors would hope. Analysis of the data suggests that the reading strategies used by these students were not sufficient for them to complete many of the tasks. Instruction or guidance in strategies that are specifically related to mathematics reading may be needed to help students deal with mathematical text. Appended to this document are: (1) Appendix A: Precalculus Reading Passages; (2) Appendix B: Calculus Reading Passages with Interruptions; and (3) Appendix C: Debriefing Questions. (Contains 3 tables and 11 footnotes.) [Partial support for this research was provided by the Mathematical Association of America's Special Interest Group on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education.]
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Tennessee Technological University, Department of Mathematics