## More Maths, or Better Maths?

Interesting view from a Biosciences perspective about the recent recommendations to increase the number of students taking Mathematics at A-level.

I’ve always had a problem with the way Statistics is taught at A-level, which is largely as a collection of recipes without much understanding of the underlying principles; would more emphasis on probability theory be a better way to go?

The introduction of post-16 maths is in the news again with a report from the House of Lords committee on Higher Education in STEM and many of the headlines from the Guardian, Independent and Times Higher have picked up on the recommendations regarding maths study post-16.

I have written a few thoughts here on my first impressions but would very much welcome comments.

Though I was pleased to see that some of my work showing that only GCSE maths is required for undergraduate biosciences was cited, the conclusion from this was that more students should take maths A level and this is a little worrying.

The lack, or low level, of maths requirements for admission to HEIs, particularly for programmes in STEM subjects, acts as a disincentive for students to take maths and high level maths at A level. We urge HEIs to introduce more demanding maths requirements…

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July 25, 2012 at 8:13 pm

…i thought the point of that blog was that most bio-sci researchers didn’t need A level? so why bother redesigning the A level?

July 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm

“would more emphasis on probability theory be a better way to go?”

Only if it starts by defining probability and getting it right, which is unlikely.

It took Jaynes’ explanation of RT Cox’s Bayesian view to show me that my poor understanding of probability was not due to my own inadequacy but to incorrect or incoherent teaching of the foundations.