Using open ended, ill formed problems to develop and assess Engineering Mathematics competencies.

Michael D Peters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


The purpose of this paper is to report upon how an engineering mathematics class was used to provide a vehicle for students to develop mathematical competencies and hence higher order thinking skills within the broader field of engineering education. Specifically it provided students with the opportunities to think mathematically, reason mathematically, pose and resolve mathematical problems, to use technology to model resolutions, interpret and handle mathematical symbolism and to communicate their resolutions to peers and staff.
Using the report produced by the Mathematics Working Group of SEFI (European Society for Engineering Education), which details a framework for mathematics curricula in engineering education (SEFI, 2013), a methodology was identified. This methodology was also based on work previously undertaken by the author (Peters, 2017; Peters, 2015).
In section 2.1 (p 13) the report lists and describes a set of eight mathematical competencies: (1) Thinking mathematically, (2) reasoning mathematically, (3) posing and solving mathematical problems, (4) modelling mathematically, (5) representing mathematical entities, (6) handling mathematical symbols and formalism, (7) communicating in, with, and about mathematics and, (8) making use of aids and tools. The report also points out the importance of developing assessment procedures pertinent to competency acquisition (p7).
The evidence from this investigation concludes that the majority of students found the experience challenging but worthwhile. They considered they had learnt important skills including the ability to form assumptions, persistence, time management, project management and an enhancement of their mathematical skills in relation to engineering.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRealising Ambitions: Proceedings of the 6th Annual Symposium of the United Kingdom & Ireland Engineering Education Research Network
PublisherUniversity of Portsmouth
ISBN (Electronic)978 1 86137 669 5
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2019
EventEERN Annual Conference. - University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth., United Kingdom
Duration: 23 Nov 2018 → …


ConferenceEERN Annual Conference.
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period23/11/18 → …

Bibliographical note

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


  • Problem resolution
  • synthesis
  • evaluation
  • analysis
  • modelling


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