Solving word problems involving triangles by transitional engineering students: Learning outcomes and implications

William Guo 1 *
More Detail
1 School of Engineering and Technology, Central Queensland University, North Rockhampton, QLD, AUSTRALIA
* Corresponding Author
EUR J SCI MATH ED, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp. 249-258.
Published Online: 26 October 2022, Published: 01 April 2023
OPEN ACCESS   893 Views   631 Downloads
Download Full Text (PDF)


Transitional engineering students are those who are academically ineligible to enter a bachelor’s engineering program but are enrolled in an associate engineering program with a university. Successful completion of such an associate engineering program allows the higher achievers to transfer to a full bachelor’s engineering program. The associate engineering program is taken commonly by self-employed tradesmen, technical workers, and young apprentices in regional, rural, and remote (RRR) areas. The foundation engineering mathematics course in the associate engineering program, particularly knowledge and skills in solving word problems involving triangles, plays a key role for the smooth transition of these students to the engineering disciplinary courses. However, there is little we have known about the performances of the transitional engineering students in solving problems involving triangles as the associate engineering programs are not among the mainstream of undergraduate programs. This study analyzed the 27 transitional engineering students’ performances in solving word problems involving triangles assigned to the students in the foundation mathematics course at a regional Australian university and found that the RRR transitional engineering students demonstrated a higher level of study ethics and achievement in solving word problems involving triangles, compared with the RRR student mathematics teachers. This seems mainly due to the professional experiences in delivering real-world projects prior to the start of their mathematics learning. Further research should be expanded to more areas of mathematics to gauge the overall performances of the transitional engineering students in mathematics learning and progression.


Guo, W. (2023). Solving word problems involving triangles by transitional engineering students: Learning outcomes and implications. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 11(2), 249-258.


  • Baine, N. A. (2020). Effects of a limited implementation of the Wright state model for engineering mathematics education focused on pre-calculus students. In Proceedings of the 2020 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition (Paper ID #30885).
  • Christensen, L. B., Johnson, R. B., Turner, & L. A. (2020). Research methods, design, and analysis. Pearson.
  • Coupland, M., Gardner, A., & Carmody, G. (2008). Mathematics for engineering education: What students say. In Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education (pp. 139-146). Research Group of Australasia.
  • Dundar, S. (2015). Mathematics teacher-candidates’ performance in solving problems with different representation styles: The trigonometry example. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 11(6), 1379-1397.
  • Fraser, S., Beswick, K., & Crowley, S. (2019). Responding to the demands of the STEM education agenda: The experiences of primary and secondary teachers from rural, regional, and remote Australia. Journal of Research in STEM Education, 5(1), 40-59.
  • Fyhn, A. B. (2017). What happens when a climber falls? Young climbers mathematise a climbing situation. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 5(1), 28‐42.
  • Guo, W. (2022a). Design and implementation of multi-purpose quizzes to improve mathematics learning for transitional engineering students. STEM Education, 2(3), 245-261.
  • Guo, W. (2022b). Exploratory case study on solving word problems involving triangles by pre-service mathematics teachers in a regional university in Australia. Mathematics, 10, 3786.
  • Guo, W., Li, W., Wang, Y., & Shen, J. (2017). Analysis of student course evaluation data for an IT subject: implications for improving STEM education. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 7(9), 635-640.
  • Levey, F. C., & Johnson, M. R. (2020). Fundamental mathematical skill development in engineering education. In Proceedings of the 2020 Annual Conference Northeast Section (pp. 1-6).
  • Murphy, S., MacDonald, A., Danaia, L., & Wang, C. (2019). An analysis of Australian STEM education strategies. Policy Futures in Education, 17(2), 122-139.
  • Nabie, M. J., Akayuure, P., Ibrahim-Bariham, U. A., & Sofo, S. (2018). Trigonometric concepts: Pre-service teachers’ perceptions and knowledge. Journal on Mathematics Education, 9(1), 169-182.
  • Newberry, B. L., Miller, R., & Andrew, R. (2011). Engineering enrollment retention improvement by application of the Wright state mathematics education model. In Proceedings of the 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition (Paper ID #22585).
  • Ni, L., June, H. Y., & Zhou, Z. (2015). Enhancing first year engineering students’ trigonometry learning experience. In Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition (Paper ID #13319).
  • Pepin, B., Biehler, R., & Gueudet, G. (2021). Mathematics in engineering education: A review of the recent literature with a view towards innovative practices. International Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education, 7, 163-188.
  • Vercellino, T., Christenson, D., & Morse, A. N. (2015). Implementation and effects of a bridge program to increase student learning and retention in engineering programs. In Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition (Paper ID #12601).
  • Walsh, R., Fitzmaurice, O., & O’Donoghue, J. (2017). What subject matter knowledge do second-level teachers need to know to teach trigonometry? An exploration and case study. Irish Educational Studies, 36(3), 273-306.
  • Wilson, S., Lyons, T., & Quinn, F. (2013). Should I stay or should I go? Rural and remote students in first year university stem courses. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 23(2), 77-88.