Difficulties and Performance in Mathematics Competences: Solving Problems with Derivatives

Verónica Díaz Quezada


The objectives of this research are to assess the performance of engineering stu-dents when using mathematical competences to solve problems with derivatives, to analyze their difficulties, and to observe which secondary school contents are essential for this purpose. The study is descriptive and exploratory with the use of quantitative methods. The participants are students of three competence-based engineering programs of a Chilean University. The results show a limited knowledge of secondary education mathematical contents like algebra, the main mathematical functions, and proportional geometry. The presence of difficulties associated to mathematical thinking processes and the complexity of mathematical objects are also evident. However, everyday problems in an artificial or fantasy context were more appealing for students, who solved most of them correctly. Even though these problems are imaginary, they were formulated using situations that engineering students face every day.


Mathematical competences, problem solving, derivatives, difficulties, engineering programs, higher education

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International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy (iJEP) – eISSN: 2192-4880
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