Higher-degree research being undertaken by Yoshitaka Nakakoji




Dr Rachel Wilson

Thesis title:

The nexus between mathematics and science: analysis and implications for university education



Project description

Yoshi’s research project investigates the relationship between mathematics and science in an elite university context, including the transfer of first year undergraduate mathematical learning to other cognate disciplinary areas, such as engineering and physics. This study conducts a naturalistic enquiry (Lincoln & Guba, 1985), employing mixed research design. There are three research methodologies employed. The main strategy is secondary data analysis, which looks at correlation of academic performance between first year mathematics and relevant science units of study (UOS), attempts to quantitatively measure the transferability of mathematical learning between the UOS, and explores the factors influencing the transferability. In addition, case studies examine the learning processes of transfer, using the think-aloud protocols. Furthermore, the study explores both students’ and teaching experts’ views on the relationship between maths and science and factors to enhance or hinder the transfer. This mixed methods naturalistic research design will overcome the limitations of the conventional transfer literature, which relies heavily on experimental designs.

Research questions

1 (a) What is the ethnic, SES, demographic, educational profile of students taking mathematics service courses?
  (b) How are attainments in mathematics service courses associated with attainments in other courses with mathematics contents?
2   How are course choice and attainment in high school mathematics associated with attainment in university mathematics, science and engineering?
3   What is the measurable transfer of learning from mathematics service courses to biology, biochemistry, engineering and physics?
4 (a) How are students' ethnic, socioeconomic, demographic and educational backgrounds associated with the transferability of mathematics?
  (b) What are the processes of transfer (if any) evident in students "think aloud" accounts while solving exam questions in mathematics service courses and corresponding other disciplinary courses?
5   What teaching and learning factors do mathematics and science educators believe to enhance transfer of mathematics from service courses?

Yoshitaka Nakakoji teaches first year mathematics in the Faculty of Science. Also, his professional knowledge and skills relevant to research has been developed through the completion of several degrees and courses, including mathematics, social research methodologies and methods, and secondary teaching.


  • Australian Postgraduate Awards (APA)
  • NSW Institute of Educational Research (IER) Student Research Grant

Professional and community roles

  • Member of Mathematics Education Society of Japan


  • Nakakoji, Y., Wilson, R. & Poladian, L. (in press). Mixed Methods Research on the Nexus Between Mathematics and Science. International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education

Conference presentations