Students' Feedback on Teaching Mathematics Through The Calculational Method

[ CiteULike link ]

João F. Ferreira and Alexandra Mendes


Accepted for publication at Frontiers in Education 2009


This paper describes a study conducted at the University of Nottingham, whose goal was to assess whether the students registered on the first-year module "Mathematics for Computer Scientists" appreciate the calculational method. The study consisted of two parts: "Proof Reading" and "Problem Solving". The goal of "Proof Reading" was to determine what the students think of calculational proofs, compared with more conventional ones, and which are easier to verify; we also assessed how their opinions changed during the term. The purpose of "Problem Solving" was to determine if the methods taught have influenced the students' problem-solving skills. Frequent criticisms of our approach are that we are too formal and that the emphasis on syntactic manipulation hinders students' understanding. Nevertheless, the results show that most students prefer or understand better the calculational proofs. On the other hand, regarding the problem-solving questions, we observed that, in general, the students maintained their original solutions.


calculational method, computer science education, problem solving, teaching mathematics

Bibtex entry
    author = {Ferreira, Jo\~{a}o  F. and Mendes, Alexandra  },
    journal = {Frontiers in Education 2009},
    title = {Students' Feedback on Teaching Mathematics 
             Through The Calculational Method},
    url = {},
    year = {2009}
  • 26 June 2009 — uploaded the paper
  • 15 May 2009 — submitted the final version to FiE 2009
  • 24 April 2009 — notification of the acceptance
  • 23 March 2009 — submitted the paper to FiE 2009