The New Paths in Math project makes a significant contribution to the development of both students’ mathematical competences and teachers’ skill sets. All the five schools implementing the project assume that one of its outcomes is an increase in students’ motivation to learn mathematics, that they are prepared for the next stage of their education and that they are planning careers in science.
Higher educational standards and, consequently, student achievements are the main aims of the present changes introduced in schools. Nowadays, mathematics is a subject that people are paying more attention to than ever. More and more studies indicate how important mathematical thinking is in people’s professional careers and for them to be able to function in the contemporary digital world. Therefore, the aim of this project is to make the link between mathematics and daily life.
The project’s partners practise with learning processes based on problem-solving skills and critical thinking as well as the use of ICT among students. Those activities are implemented within the project’s scope of work. The project’s partners believe that the project’s school composition makes it possible to face various challenges that are specific for their institutions. Five vocational schools work with students from the ages of fifteen to nineteen and offer education in electronics, IT specialisation and telecommunications, all closely related subjects.
Surveys carried out at the partnering schools demonstrate that the mathematics taught at those schools does not take into account those strictly defined technical skills of the students. Instead, mathematics is a subject taught in similar ways regardless of the students’ future aspirations in the fields of electronics, technology, biology or nutrition, to name a few examples. Due to this, the students’ potentials in relation to their future careers are not fully developed.
One of the primary goals of this project is to prepare educational materials to improve teaching processes in mathematics and, simultaneously, to develop students’ technological passions. For this purpose, lesson scripts are compiled, both as particular modules and as single elements. By building a bridge between mathematics and vocational subjects, the partners hope to increase young people’s motivation and develop their mathematical abilities in order to improve their scientific skills. The objective is to guarantee that students have a more attractive form of mathematics education that corresponds to their needs and expectations.
Another aim of this project is to utilise the potentials of ICT in teaching mathematics. On one hand, the students’ motivation towards mathematics and vocational subjects is increased and, on the other hand, teachers are encouraged to use ICT more consciously in their teaching. Programmes such as GeoGebra are used for teaching mathematics and electrical engineering, as well as in telecommunications, in order to improve teaching experiences. Students are encouraged to prepare digital tools to allow them and their peers to unlock the secrets of mathematics. In this way, the students become active participants in their learning processes.
Students who participate in this project gain international experience and meet students from other countries to exchange innovative ideas. Their diverse backgrounds, culture and experiences can positively impact their involvement in their learning processes. At the same time, the students develop their language skills.
Additionally, based on an analysis of international and internal surveys, the project’s partners believe that this kind of international experience is a very important benefit for students. The partners found that insufficient language skills among students of vocational schools is a problem in most European countries and especially visible in five of them. For this reason, all those well-designed actions of the project to develop students’ mathematical skills are also intended to contribute simultaneously to the development of their language skills.
The third aim of this project is to familiarise teachers of mathematics with the technical knowledge that their students already possess. Fortunately, there are teachers in the project’s partnering schools who not only teach mathematics and vocational subjects but are also experts in making the link between different subjects. The exchange of good practices in mathematics and other subjects makes it possible to build a more concerned, dynamic and professional teachers’ community in each of the five partnering schools.
Country: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Italy, Poland, Portugal
Coordinator: Zespol Szkol Elektronicznych i Licealnych, Poland, https://www.zseil.edu.pl
Target groups: secondary school students, teachers
Topic: Electronics, Engineering, Information technology, Maths, Physics
Start year: 2017
End year: 2019
Contact person: Anna Sulek, Email anna.sulek.zseil (at) gmail.com
The main activities of the project, relevant for teachers, include:
- Five short-term exchanges of groups of school pupils.
- Three short-term joint staff training events.
- Three transnational meetings.
The added value of these learning, teaching and training activities improves students’ learning motivation and achievements in mathematics and science. Students broaden their horizons by actively participating in open lessons, informal learning and visiting science institutions outside their schools. Students who attend short-term mobility programmes and get to know best practices will make the programmes better known in their own schools. Those students meet and integrate with other young people from different backgrounds, cultures and traditions. During those activities, students learn how to promote diversity, tolerance and an intercultural dialogue. Teachers improve their skills and competences, share innovative experiences as well as practice new methods and tools useful in innovative teaching and in-serving trainings.