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Mathematical Modeling in the People's Republic of China ---Indicators of Participation and Performance on COMAP's modeling contest

Tian, Xiaoxi

In recent years, Mainland Chinese teams have been the dominant participants in the two COMAP-sponsored mathematical modeling competitions: the Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) and the Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (ICM).
This study examines five factors that lead to the Chinese teams' dramatic increase in participation rate and performance in the MCM and ICM: the Chinese government's support, pertinent organizations' efforts, support from initiators of Chinese mathematical modeling education and local resources, Chinese teams' preferences in selecting competition problems to solve, and influence from the Chinese National College Entrance Examination (NCEE).
The data made clear that (1) the policy support provided by the Chinese government laid a solid foundation in popularizing mathematical modeling activities in China, especially in initial stages of the development of mathematical modeling activities. (2) Relevant organizations have been the main driving force behind the development of mathematical modeling activities in China. (3) Initiators of mathematical modeling education were the masterminds of Chinese mathematical modeling development; support from other local resources served as the foundation of mathematical modeling popularity in China. (4) Chinese teams have revealed a preference for discrete over continuous mathematical problems in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling. However, in general, the winning rates of these two problem types have been shown to be inversely related to their popularity — while discrete problems have traditionally had higher attempt rates, continuous problems enjoyed higher winning rates. (5) The NCEE mathematics examination seems to include mathematical application problems rather than actual mathematical modeling problems. Although the extent of NCEE influence on students' mathematical modeling ability is unclear, the content coverage suggests that students completing a high school mathematics curriculum should be able to apply what they learned to simplified real-world situations, and pose solutions to the simple models built in these situations. This focus laid a solid mathematics foundation for students' future study and application of mathematics.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics Education
Thesis Advisors
Vogeli, Bruce R.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014