Tried and tested maths books updated;Curriculum;Books

28th May 1999 at 01:00
NELSON MATHS IN ACTION: Higher Mathematics pound;11.99. Intermediate Mathematics 1 and 2 pound;11.99 each



These texts have been produced to meet the requirements of maths courses within the new Scottish Higher Still arrangements. Higher Mathematics is essentially a revision of the existing Maths in Action Book 5S; the others are new. All the texts provide answers to the set exercises, make provision for consolidation and revision, promote the use of scientific calculators, and, with the exception of the teacher's resource books, are reasonably priced.

As one would expect from the Maths in Action label, the books are well-produced and compiled by experienced professionals. They are, however, written in different styles for different purposes.

Higher Mathematics is by far the most succinct and concise. Its introduction contains virtually no overview or guidance on its use or the need for previous experience. The encouraging remarks to students which introduced 5S have also disappeared.

The authors seem to think teachers working at Higher maths level do not need any guidance regarding treatment of topics and that those studying from the text will have access to such teachers.

Higher Mathematics has an impersonal tone, condensed style and occasional more complicated example. Although Book 5S was produced 10 years ago, the mathematical treatment of topics does not appear to have been altered significantly, so it is questionable whether, for anyone using Book 5S, the extent of revision merits the cost of replacement. That said, Higher Mathematics provides an effective "no frills" resource for Higher Still Mathematics Units 1(H), 2(H), and 3(H).

The other texts are more user-friendly. Intermediate Mathematics 1 and 2 are written for the new Higher Still courses, designed to be worthwhile extensions of Standard grade Foundation and General level work and, in the case of Intermediate 2, as a preparation for Higher students who have not quite attained Credit level 1, 2 at Standard grade.

Intermediate Mathematics 1 has as its starting point Standard grade General level 4 and Foundation levels 5 and 6.

The accompanying teacher's books provide useful guidance and overviews, and additional sets of examples for revision, homework and extension. Both texts are well laid-out, with substantial sets of examples, and could be used as self-study texts for motivated students. They provide worthwhile consolidation and extension for students of moderate to low ability.

Statistics for Higher Mathematics has been prepared to cover the optional statistics unit. It is written as a self-study text with "additional explanatory text, illustrative examples, and informative answers". The text provides a well-structured introduction to a range of statistical concepts and processes, stopping short of hypothesis testing but including correlation.

Statistics is a notoriously difficult subject for beginners and the authors are to be congratulated for producing a text which combines accuracy with insight.

Maths in Action is a tried and tested series and those already using it successfully will feel drawn to these new texts. Others may wish to dip into alternatives before making up their minds.

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