Bridging the Mathematical Gap – offering matriculants a second chance at success
Four years since the inception of the Bridging The Mathematical Gap (BTMG) learning programme at the North-West University’s (NWU's) Vaal Triangle Campus, many learners have not only overcome towards anxiety for mathematics, but are also flourishing as students pursuing their university studies within the BCom and BSc fields.
Many of these learners went from obtaining dismal marks for mathematics in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examination to enrolling and successfully completing their degree studies in Economics, Business Informatics and Information Technology. “The BTMG programme aims to assist grade 12 learners to improve their performance in mathematics and by doing so allow them access to degree programmes that requires a sound mathematical basis, such as BCom and BSc IT,” explains Prof Herman van der Merwe, Executive Dean of the faculty. The syllabus of the programme covers not only basic mathematical concepts – which are taught from Grade 8 onwards, but also the application of these concepts in accordance with the outcomes specified in the Grade 12 curriculum. In short: an intensified focus on the entire mathematical spectrum that will serve as pre-knowledge for the mathematics modules in the BCom and BSc IT curriculums respectively.
More about the programme
The programme – which is offered within the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology, introduced the BTMG programme in 2014 as an initiative to not only better school learners’ understanding of mathematics (and henceforth improve their overall performance in the subject), but also increase access into fields such as commerce and information technology. According to Ms Daleen Gerber, Director of the School of Information Technology, learners who enrolled for the BTMG programme in January 2017 will busy themselves with the curriculum for six hours a day for a two-week period. During this time they will receive intensive coaching – both in group settings and on an individual base, and write various class tests as well as two exam papers to ascertain their level of insight. “The programme sets a minimum required pass rate of 50% for all participants, and I am pleased to say that thus far the programme has maintained a pass rate of 80% ,“ says Gerber.
Success all the way
The biggest success of the programme is that it builds a bridge between the abstract nature of mathematics and the practical application thereof. In the instance of a degree programme such as BSc IT, mathematics represents the basis upon which all natural sciences subjects are founded, whereas in BCom programmes mathematics is used, for example, to calculate logarithms and exponential functions. Prof Van der Merwe emphasises the importance of an initiative such as the BTMG and says that by empowering learners to be mathematically competent and efficient, the campus is pro-actively addressing the dire skills need of the country. “Mathematics is one of those subjects – along with science, that is very important to the economy and the further development of our country,” says Prof Van der Merwe and adds that school learners who want to further their studies or want to work in sectors like engineering, natural sciences, information technology and medicine have to pass mathematics, science or both if they are to qualify for further studies in these fields. “Our economy needs doctors, engineers, architects, actuaries and information technology specialists, and I believe that as a university and as a campus, we are heeding the call to address this skills deficit.”
* The programme is only valid for students who want to further their studies at the Vaal Triangle Campus.