Innovative methods in math for engineering students

New Paths in Math project description

Increasing the educational standards and, as a consequence, also students' achievements are the main aims of the present changes introduced in schools. Nowadays, mathematics is a subject that we pay attention to more than ever. An increasing number of studies show how important in our professional careers as well as the ability to function in the contemporary digital world is mathematical thinking.

Therefore we try to relate mathematics to daily life. We practice problem-solving learning and critical thinking as well as use ICT with our students.

The ideas mentioned above will be implemented within the framework of “New Paths in Math” project.
We believe that due to the choice of the schools that will introduce this project it will be possible to face different challenges which are specific for the nature of our institutions. We are vocational schools that work with students ages 15-19. All the schools involved in the project (5 schools) educate their students in electronic, IT specialist and telecommunications; all of which are closely related sciences.

During the surveys carried out in the partner schools it has been established that the way mathematics are taught in our schools does not take into account strictly defined technical skills of our students. We usually teach our students in this same way, regardless of what they want to be in the future: electronics technicians, bio-technical assistants or dietary technicians. As a result, we neglect the huge potential of 15-16 year old teenagers who start their journey into their future professional career.

One of the first goals of this project will be to prepare educational materials to improve teaching mathematics and, at the same time, develop our students' technological passions. We are going to compile lesson scripts, particular modules or just their single elements. We hope that by building a correlation between mathematics and vocational subjects we will increase the motivation of these young people and develop their mathematical abilities in order to help them improve their science skills. We want to guarantee our students a more attractive form of mathematics education according to the students' needs and expectations.

The other aim of this project is to utilize ITC in teaching mathematics. On one hand we want to increase motivation of students with mathematics and vocational subjects and on the other hand we would like teachers to use ITC more consciously during the teaching process.. We want to encourage our students to prepare digital tools to allow them and their peers to unlock the secrets of mathematics. That way they will be actively participating in the process of learning.

We are sure that our students, working in an international group of students passionate about science. Those students can undoubtedly come up with many innovative ideas. Taking into account that they will come from different backgrounds, culture and with different experience, without doubt, it will positively impact their involvement and it will be a good example of the real work using, of course, our project method. Moreover, our students, at the same time, can develop their language skills. Last but not least, we believe that, this will be an additional, and very important, benefit for our students.

We have been analysing a lot of international and internal surveys. During the debates over the project we have found out that there is the problem of insufficient language skills among students of vocational schools in most of European countries and it is especially visible in five countries in particular. On this account all of the well-thought-out actions that increase the progress in mathematical skills of our students, at the same time they will also focus on developing their language skills.

The third aim of our project is to familiarise teachers of mathematics with technical knowledge that our students already have. Discussing this problem in our international group, especially the needs of teachers of mathematics and technical knowledge of our students we have determined that some teachers have sometimes a limited knowledge. Fortunately, in our school there are teachers who teach not only mathematics and vocational subjects but are also real experts on realising the correlation between different subjects. The exchange of good practices on this field will make it possible for us to build in each of the five schools more concerned, dynamic and professional teachers' community.