Assessment of mathematics learning potential: the mathematics comprehension test

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Publication Details

Author list: Prince R, Conradie J, Mutakwa D

Place: Montreal

Publication year: 2018


The importance of the role of learning potential in higher education is increasingly being recognized. Many academic disciplines make significant demands on students’ mathematical practices. Quantitative disciplines, such as Engineering and Sciences, also make complex demands, for which traditional school-leaving mathematics courses do not always prepare students adequately.

This paper focuses on the Mathematics Comprehension (MCOM) test. The MCOM test is one of two tests of academic potential developed and run by the Centre for Educational Testing for Access and Placement (CETAP) at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The purpose of the MCOM test is to assess a student’s ability to engage with and respond to teaching of new mathematical concepts. Two topics not covered in the school-leaving Mathematics curriculum are introduced in the test. The topics are chosen in such a way that there is minimal dependence on the mathematics taught at school level. The test material based on these topics are interspersed with questions on the concepts introduced, in the style of a traditional comprehension test, in this way attempting to assess a student’s understanding of what she or he has read and understood or mastered. The questions range from very easy to more demanding applications of the new ideas introduced in the test.

The study, using categorical methods, tracks two Bachelor of Science student cohorts for three years and looks at proportions of the cohort which completed the degree in minimum time. The study goes on to track these cohorts for a further year. As a result, this study focuses on graduation rates at minimum time (3 years) and minimum time plus one year (4 years). The results in this study shows that there is a statistically significant relationship between the MCOM test scores and graduation in minimum time and minimum time plus one year.


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Education, Mathematics

Last updated on 2018-14-11 at 15:23