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A Level students who....

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by stevencarrwork, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. don't know the formula for the circumference of a circle.

    don't know the formula for the area of a circle.

    Get 27/6 to be 1.5

    think that 3 squared is 6, and that 6 squared is 12.

    think that the square root of 36 is 18.

    have no idea what the quadratic formula is.

    wonder why they struggle with AS-Level maths when they got an A at GCSE.

    Beats me. Why do they struggle at AS-Level? Any ideas?
     
  2. don't know the formula for the circumference of a circle.

    don't know the formula for the area of a circle.

    Get 27/6 to be 1.5

    think that 3 squared is 6, and that 6 squared is 12.

    think that the square root of 36 is 18.

    have no idea what the quadratic formula is.

    wonder why they struggle with AS-Level maths when they got an A at GCSE.

    Beats me. Why do they struggle at AS-Level? Any ideas?
     
  3. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    I foresee hurt, anger and recriminations. Make sure your back is covered.
     
  4. You're a private tutor aren't you Steven?

    You have to be honest with the student(s) and the parents.

    Tell them what they need to do and how much they need to do. Tell them that just doing the work set at school is not going to be enough.

    They probably won't act on your advice but at least you will have done your best for them.
     
  5. MRMTL
    Tell them what they need to do and how much they need to do. Tell them that just doing the work set at school is not going to be enough.

    CARR




    It does get difficult when you ask 'What is the formula for the area of a triangle?' and get the response 'What do you mean?'
     
  6. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    It's a sad truth that students can get a B or even an A at GCSE without really being competent mathematicians. I've started giving lists of key topics students from lower sets will need to understand prior to beginning any AS course.
     
  7. You are absolutely correct. I can't even take for granted that they can solve linear equations like 7/x = 1/2
     
  8. Easier GCSEs = Higher results = Students believe they are good when in reality they are not


    SLT who are not mathematicians = thoughts that all A Levels are created equally = Believe B is good enough


    Pupils want to do Maths for uni entry = wrong choice of course for them = poor AS students


    Wrong culture in the UK towards study = more poor students spending time chasing fame instead of working = pupils think things will come easy = failure


    Bums on seats = whole host of non academics returning to school who 20 years ago would have gone into job = more failure
     
  9. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    Interesting points.

     
  10. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Actually, I think a large part of the problem at A level is the same one we see at KS3.

    Both the KS2 curriculum and the GCSE specification are too broad.

    Superficial knowledge of a large number of topics can easily result in a high pass - at A level, detailed knowledge of fewer topics are required.

    Take a favourite of mine - loci.

    Sure, Loci is a "fun" topic, a nice one a lower set can play at doing some drawing and perhaps a bit of colouring

    And/or you can do it physically which always makes a nice "inspection" lesson.

    But what's it for? If they're lucky, they'll pick up maybe 5 marks on a loci question - and what honestly does it give them when they come to A levels?

    Nothing.

    Sure, there are parts of further maths where study of a cycloid could be interesting - but we don't touch any of that at GCSE and it's not as if the GCSE content can't be taught to a further maths set in 5 minutes!

    Useful outside the classroom? Yes, to engineers, but they'll also be doing higher study and will cover the GCSE content in a few minutes. Useful for trades and builders - again, yes, but they'll cover it in a practical way, in their own training - the GCSE element is irrelevant.

    Too much, spread too thin. Same at KS2.
     
  11. I appreciate there could be a better curriculum.

    My question is though:
    Is it a case of having to know less topics in more depth or is it having the capacity to learn?


    I think if a pupil is good then they can adapt to whatever is thrown at them as they mature. Looking at the standard of some pupils I simply don't think it's there.
    You could spend 4 weeks on a topic and they would still be one dimensional and hit their limit. We do expect some base knowledge but able people will learn regardless. Consider the number of adult learners who go straight onto A Levels or a Degree. The intro courses are sufficient if the ability and motivation is there


    I am just thinking out loud, but I don't think any curriculum will allow for low ability students to grasp A Levels. They are being misinformed or are deluded.
     
  12. lancsHOD

    lancsHOD New commenter

    I did some tuition with a neighbour's son while he was doing GCSE. Didn't do a huge amount just a few hours running up to one modular exam and the final exam. Recently I have been asked to do some more, he's in Y12 and doing A'Level! He's had a poor result on one teachers first half term test. So I asked what he wanted to cover.
    He wants me to go over completing the square, he said he could do it before, a fact I remember. I've told him to put some time on 'MyMaths' and remind himself how to do it. I've told him and his dad that he needs to be putting work in after each lesson.
    I'm not going to help him partly because I don't want to make the time but also because I think he needs to do the work.
    My point is he could complete the square for his GCSE (he got an A) but he's forgotten how to do it and is too lazy (his mum would probably say lacks confidence) to look back at his GCSE work, his class work from this year, a text book or MyMaths to sort it out.
    I taught A'Level a few years ago and got frustrated by pupils not having fluency with techniques that had been taught.
    There is and always has been a gulf between A'Level and GCSE Mathematics. A GCSE for a bright child is easy and requires little effort. A'Level requires thorough knowledge and that requires those studying it to do some independent work.
     
  13. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    perhaps the constant emphasis on pace and learning something "new" every lesson at the expense of time spent practicing and embedding skills is a problem?
    I don't think i really mean perhaps
     
  14. Exactly - embedding and consolidating isn't viewed as progress because it isn't new. But obviously IS progress because it increases fluency and retention, which, ironically, enable greater progress on new topics further down the line.
     
  15. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    and is especially enjoyed by the lower ability students who find the current approved approach confusing and demoralising
     
  16. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    I recall seeing a comment on a site somewhere which was from a girl who was poor at maths but loved her maths lessons - which were worksheet after worksheet after worksheet.

    When asked why she didn't think this was "boring", she replied, "it's the only lesson I have where I can do exactly what I'm told and get everything right."
     
  17. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    What's the current approved approach? Do something new every time?

     
  18. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Ofsted tell us "do what works".

    But so often ill-informed SLT, briefed by ignorant consultants insist on "progress" - meaning yes, "something new every time".
     
  19. Guish

    Guish New commenter

    My old HOD used to do that. She went through everything quickly, did less class work and gave lots of homework. In that way, she finished the syllabus quickly and planned revision afterwards. I don't need to tell you what the results were!

     
  20. Brilliant points.

     

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