Engineering students’ instrumental approaches to mathematics; some positive characteristics

Ragnhild Johanne Rensaa 1 *
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1 Faculty of Engineering Science and Technology, UiT the Arctic University of Norway, Narvik, Norway
* Corresponding Author
EUR J SCI MATH ED, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp. 82-99.
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The present paper presents three deliberately chosen mathematical episodes observed in a class of engineering students taking a basic calculus course. By drawing on analyses of instrumental and relational learning strategies, the episodes are shown to illustrate instrumental approaches indicated by the students. The paper discusses positive characteristics about these approaches while further data collections shed light on reasons why such approaches were preferred. Results reveal some positive characteristics, suggesting that instrumental strategies may serve as valuable parts of the learning environment in engineering educations. If students are motivated by instrumental approaches, then utilizing positive aspects about them may be an important starting point in teaching. Awareness of this may provide useful in stimulating for relational learning based on instrumental profits.


Rensaa, R. J. (2018). Engineering students’ instrumental approaches to mathematics; some positive characteristics. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 6(3), 82-99.


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