The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) has recently released a report on why so many students who succeed in high school calculus then struggle in first year college calculus. While the US education system has challenges related to specifics of secondary education and curriculum, there are many similarities with the challenges for mathematics education here.
In particular the report highlights the mismatch between students’ high level of confidence entering first year and their subsequent failure or low grades. It is also clear that while some students can master advanced concepts, they do not have a solid enough background in more fundamental mathematical concepts.
An article in the US Conversation about the report states,
“the crux of the problem: students lacking the requisite foundational abilities may not succeed because the college faculty member expects them to be at ease with these more basic ideas, freeing them to absorb and understand the new, more conceptual material.”