– I got top marks in mathematics when I went to high school, without working hard for it, and then I had no chance of the national partial exam, says Sigurd Stuffer (21).
He’s a student on a course for primary teachers from grade 1 to grade 7 at Oslo Mitt, and last month he completed his first year of school – but the summer break started with a disappointing result in a maths exam.
It’s not fun to fail an exam.
He wasn’t alone, though, because 94 of his fellow students received an F.
All student teachers, whether they are going to be teachers in grades one through seven or grades five through ten, must pass the National Partial Examination in Mathematics.
Exam failure rates are known to be high year after year, but never before have so many failed this spring.
“We’ve been warned by former students and our teachers that there are many who will fail, so we made a real effort that we thought had to be good enough,” says Storr.
The student was initially satisfied with his own achievement, as he had the impression that many of his fellow students were too after completing the exam. However, nearly half of the students ended up with a failing grade. Those must retake the exam in the fall.
Results do not reflect students’ knowledge. The exam is too hard and the teaching is not good enough.
Students should work more
The head of primary teacher training at Oslo MET, Vibeke Bjarno, announced that the university’s high failure rate did not come as a surprise.
– Students need to work more with this topic. You can’t memorize math. You build understanding. The future teacher cannot have a misunderstanding of mathematics. We must therefore set strict and didactic requirements in teacher training, she says.
Despite the fact that more and more students are failing their exams in all teacher education programs in the country, there is one university that is doing better than ever.
Strong professional environment
At the University of Agder (UiA), less than five percent of students who took an exam this year failed.
– We are very pleased with the good results we have achieved, because they show that good work in the long term pays off, says Vice-Chancellor and Dean for Teacher Education at UiA, Hilde Inntjore.
At UiA, we have a long tradition of research Mathematics education, which we actively use in teacher training. So we have a strong professional environment. In addition, we are clear about this compulsory attendance. Students must actively participate and take part in group lessons, which gives good results in the long run.
Intgor believes that poor results in other universities and colleges are shameful.
– After all, we must talk to each other across institutions in order to share experiences and good arrangements with each other.
Institutions must learn from each other
– It is important that we take the national partial exam in mathematics, so that we can get a sense of where the country is. It gives feedback to study centers on how they are doing, so the institutions themselves can go and see where things are failing in order to improve their teaching programmes.
That’s what Kristen Fengey, CEO of Nocut, said. The test was developed by Nokut, and they do continuous analyzes to map the knowledge level of the students.
We believe that part of the reason many people fail is poor prior knowledge of mathematics. In addition, we know that results in mathematics in primary and secondary schools are not impressive. So this is an ongoing problem.
Why are there such big differences across universities and colleges?
– What we see is that some institutions have worked well, for example, they have created introductory courses, so that they prepare the students before they start teaching. Many also set the level of students and adapt teaching accordingly. Metrics make good results, so organizations here can learn from each other and be inspired.
Better foundation with an R or S mat
Principal Knockot also believes the poor exam results may be related to the 4-point requirement in mathematics from high school, in order to enter teacher training, which was dropped last year.
Students who took the exam this year had different admission requirements, as some universities offer the exam in the first year, while others apply in the second year. Therefore, some students had 4 requirements, while others did not. However, we cannot say anything concrete about the implications of this in our investigations so far.
– And what about the kind of mathematics students got in high school? Could this have something to do with the results?
– She sure has. We haven’t exactly broken this down, but P-mathematics is the simplest form of high school math that everyone should have. So if you have R Math, which is more science-oriented, or S Math, which is social math, you are stronger and have a better foundation for doing well in Math in a teacher’s course.
– enthusiastic students
Sigurd Støver has complained about a failing grade, but is ready to retake the exam in the fall.
– We’ll make another attempt on November 30, so I’ll work hard for it, – says the student.
– I hope OsloMet will arrange further education for us residents so that we can access it. We are a whole group of about 100 people, and we are passionate students who want to be teachers.
– We will have additional teaching and guidance this fall, and it will be a show both for new teacher training and for those who have to take the exam again, announced Vibeke Bjarnø of OsloMet.
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