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Self-efficacy is critical to improved mathematics performance in engineering studies

Yusuf Feyisara Zakariya of the Faculty of Engineering and Science at the University of Agder has submitted his thesis entitled “Undergraduate students’ performance in mathematics: Individual and combined effects of approaches to learning, self-efficacy, and prior mathematics knowledge” and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Friday 30 April 2021. (Photo: Private)

Self-efficacy appears to influence the adoption of either deep or surface approaches to learning mathematics among engineering students. Therefore, a major conclusion drawn from the findings of the present project is the identification of self-efficacy as a prime factor whose interventions could enhance students’ performance in the course.

Yusuf Feyisara Zakariya

PhD Candidate

The disputation will be held digitally, because of the Corona covid-19-situation. Spectators may follow the disputation digitally – link is available below.

 

Yusuf Feyisara Zakariya of the Faculty of Engineering and Science at the University of Agder has submitted his thesis entitled Undergraduate students’ performance in mathematics: Individual and combined effects of approaches to learning, self-efficacy, and prior mathematics knowledge” and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Friday 30 April 2021.

He has followed the PhD-programme at the Faculty of Engineering and Science at the University of Agder, with Spesialisation in Mathematics Education.

Summary of the thesis by Yusuf Feyisara Zakariya:

Self-efficacy is critical to improved mathematics performance

Background

The poor performance of students in first-year introductory calculus course at the University of Agder is worrisome and requires attention.

This project concerns an exploration of factors that affect the performance of engineering students in the course. The contributions of prior mathematics knowledge, approaches to learning, and self-efficacy to performance in the course are carefully investigated in my PhD project.

Methods

The project adopts a survey design through which data are generated by using questionnaires, a pre-test of students’ basic mathematical knowledge, and final exam scores in an introductory calculus course.

The analysis is based on some relatively advanced statistical tools and the findings are interpreted based on the adopted theoretical foundations in the project.

Findings and conclusion

Accumulated evidence from this project points to the fact that self-efficacy (i.e., engineering students’ convictions to solve first-year introductory calculus tasks successfully) has the most substantial effect on the students’ performance in the course.

Its effect overshadows the effects of both prior mathematics knowledge and approaches to learning mathematics on students’ performance in the course.

Further, self-efficacy appears to influence the adoption of either deep or surface approaches to learning mathematics among engineering students.

Therefore, a major conclusion drawn from the findings of the present project is the identification of self-efficacy as a prime factor whose interventions could enhance students’ performance in the course.

Disputation facts:

The trial lecture and the public defence will take place online, via the Zoom conferencing app (link below)

Head of Department Ingvald Erfjord, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of  Engineering and Science, University of Agder, will chair the disputation.

Trial lecture at 11:00 hours

Public defense at 13:00 hours

 

Given topic for trial lecture “Applying the philosophies of Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos and Feyerabend to mathematics education research”

Thesis Title: Undergraduate students’ performance in mathematics: Individual and combined effects of approaches to learning, self-efficacy, and prior mathematics knowledge

Search for the thesis in AURA - Agder University Research Archive, a digital archive of scientific papers, theses and dissertations from the academic staff and students at the University of Agder.

The thesis is available here:

https://hdl.handle.net/11250/2737867

 

The CandidateYusuf Feyisara Zakariya (Lagos, Nigeria 1986) Double-honour bachelor’s degree in mathematics education (BSc.Ed. mathematics) and graduated with first-class honour at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. Master’s degree in mathematics at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia. He has been working as a university lecturer since 2014 at Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria.

Opponents:

First opponent: Professor Matthew Inglis, Loughborough University, UK

Second opponent: Associate Professor Maria Meehan, University college Dublin, Irland

Associate Professor Svein Olav Nyberg, Department of Engineering Sciences, University of  Agder, is appointed as the administrator for the assessment commitee.

Supervisors were Associate Professor Hans Kristian Nilsen, UiA (main supervisor) and Associate Professor Kirsten Bjørkestøl, UiA (co-supervisor)

What to do as an audience member:

The disputation is open to the public, but to follow the trial lecture and the public defence, which is transmitted via the Zoom conferencing app, you have to register as an audience member.

We ask audience members to join the virtual trial lecture at 10:50 at the earliest and the public defense at 12:50 at the earliest. After these times, you can leave and rejoin the meeting at any time. Further, we ask audience members to turn off their microphone and camera and keep them turned off throughout the event. You do this at the bottom left of the image when in Zoom. We recommend you use ‘Speaker view’. You select that at the top right corner of the video window when in Zoom.

Opponent ex auditorio:

The chair invites members of the public to pose questions ex auditorio in the introduction to the public defense, with deadlines. Questions can be submitted to the chair, Ingvald Erfjord on e-mail ingvald.erfjord@uia.no