Mathematical Prerequisites for STEM Programs: What do University Instructors Expect from New STEM Undergraduates?

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  • Christoph Deeken
  • Irene Neumann
  • Aiso Heinze
In many countries STEM degree programs face high dropout rates, which are often attributed to insufficient mathematical preparation of incoming undergraduates. However, it is largely unclear which mathematical prerequisites universities expect from their new STEM undergraduates. There are hardly official documents and it is even an open question whether there is a consensus among university instructors. The main goal of this study is therefore to describe the expected mathematical prerequisites for new STEM undergraduates. We conducted a Delphi study with German university instructors for first semester mathematics courses in STEM programs. The participants identified 179 prerequisites addressing: (1) mathematical content, (2) mathematical processes, (3) views about the nature of mathematics, and (4) personal characteristics. For 140 of these prerequisites there was a consensus regarding their necessity among the university instructors. The expected mathematical prerequisites are mainly on a basic level and do not require formalistic or abstract mathematical knowledge or abilities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)23-41
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 04.2020