University Mathematics in Venezuela Author(s): P. R. Montgomery Source: The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 75, No. 6 (Jun. - Jul., 1968), pp.

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2. M.83 on Sat. 27 Jul 2013 09:44:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This report. there degrees.86.The schools universities size from tens of thousands of students at UC to a few hundred at vary in of these places. University 1.' and 'Fundamental' Comparisons. 8. and industrial arts. 'Elementary. Los UDO and the Andes. L. American. 71 (1964) 515-520. which teach such diverse subjects as commercial fishing. thisMONTHLY. and technical schools. These students are not accepted into any of the autonomous schools and may only enterUDO or the IP's. Introduction. At all calculus variety. R. which are operated directlyunder council."120-128). and Carabobo. Venezuela.S. in level school at post-high mathematics the teaching types of such institutionsin Venezuela. B. 26 (1967) 95-105. These Institutesare are not acnot consideredequivalent to universitiesand the degrees they offer universities small are several private Finally. Stephen I. M. Students. 9. The Pentagon. (ME of Education (ME) througha rectorand university the M4inistry recentlyannounced plans to start another universitysimilar to UDO in Caracas. Zulia. Brown. cepted as university of whichAndres Bello Catholic Universityis the most important.A visual displayof some properties of the distribution of primes. Gardner.664 MATHEMATICAL EDUCATION NOTES [June-July 2 (April1960). I hope it accurately reflects like the but. David Page.like the visits. there are two other types of secondary schools: normal schools. The mathematicalcontentof the secondary (and primary)programsis very old-fashionedand does not contain any of the newer approaches. Stein. I bad in the opportunitiesto make several shortvisits to other academic institutions country. 'Prime'.Cover(and inthatissue. 7. In addition to my normal duties of teachingand servingas advisor to the mathematicsdepartmentof UDO. At the same level are the two institutions. most of the mathematicstauglhtis of the algebraIPE. Experimental Center forHigher Education. Games. cursory. Scientific Martin 'Mathematical March1964.These visits were generallyof an "official"nature and hence may not as desired.) The ME also operates two normal colleges or Pedagogical Institutes (IP and IPE) forthe purpose of traininghigh school teachers. Most of the universitystudents come fromfive-yearschools or liceos. is rathershort and have been as fruitful the general pattern of visits. However. UNIVERSITY MATHEMATICS IN VENEZUELA of Kansas P. It is tightly This content downloaded from 129.agronomy. Ulam and M. My stay was partially supported by the Ford Foundation.These private do not play a verylarge role in the educational system. Venezuela. in a cooperative science project between UDO and the Universityof Kansas. The most There are four different common are the autonomous universitiessuch as Central (UC). 10. MONTGOMERY. Do something about estimationl Updating Mathematics. which prepare primary teachers. Wells.252.The writerhas just returnedfroma two-yearstay at the Universityof Oriente (UDO) in Cumana. which is a new university dedicated to educational experimentationand innovation.

In the past. 4.) There is very little professional interchange between the universities (sometimes not even within the university). rate is quite highwith the largestcontributing is composed of part3. The size of the classes varies fromthe large sections (70-100) of the introductory courses to quite small sections (2-10) forthe advanced mathematics majors.83 on Sat. Because of the rigidityof the curriculum. Germany. Rather substantial efforts are being made to overcome this dependence on foreignprofessorsby scholarship programswhich have been initiated in several of the universities. This time includes some hours of "practice" which correspond roughly to laboratory in chemistryor physics.This part-time faculty consistsof A.As would be expected. most professors (This representstwo courses. Because of the nature of the high school testingprogram. full-timeprofessors. The average teaching load is difficult teach about twelve hours per week. but at UDO.Two exceptionsto this patternare UDO and IPE. As stated above.then. Algebra and Geometry are combined throughoutthe curriculumrather than being divided into separate years as is the case in the U.However. No more than thirtyper cent of the people teaching mathematicsin the liceos have had any advanced (i.the students try to memorizeeverything. In general they have extremedifficultyapplying known material to new problems. In general.since most courses meet six hours weekly. Faculty. even entire pages. which has a small and not very active mathematics section. geometrybeing the principal victim. Their studying is made further difficult by various other factors.Italy and Puerto Rico.. 27 Jul 2013 09:44:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . who employ. At least two of the mathematicsdepartmentspublish quarterliesalong the lines of Mathematics Magazine which are directedat high school students and teachers. studying usually done in their crowded pensiones or under streetlights. The facultieshave a quite high ratio of non-Venezuelansand this ratio is higher among those professorswith advanced training. a sizable numberof studentslack textbooks.the remainderbeing high school graduates only. Very little homeworkis assigned and little studyingis done outside of class except forpreparationforexams.252.B.-level mathematicsmajors or engineers.e. are forstudy in the United States. college) trainingin mathematics. most meet six hours per week.althoughthere is presentlyat work a committee of the Ministry studying possible changes. and have sole controlover the courses. to compute with the part-timehelp. the failure factorbeing poor background.the facultyof these institutions time instructors who teach for varying numbers of hours per week.such as classes for 25-30 hours per week. almost exclusively.The only scientificsociety with open membershipis the Venezuelan Society for the Advancement of Science. but otherstudents Most of these fellowships are sent to France. teachers have tended to omit or treat very lightlycertain subjects. the student would never be exposed to this material.86.S. This content downloaded from 129. The practice classes are. forexample.1968] MATHEMATICAL EDUCATION NOTES 665 controlledby ME and has not had any revisionsformany years. both UC and UDO have a high percentage of professorswith graduate trainingin mathematics. Classes.

not all of which involve retakingit.) Some of the pensums are quite modern and geometryand algebraic topology. Most of the courses a mathematics student takes are mathematics.under these pensums. by the lack of graduate schools in Venezuela training elsewhere. 5. Good up-to-datebooks in Spanish are rare and expensive.The actual numberof class hours is somewhat higherdue to the practice hours. Minors. which is a listing of the courses a student must take during each semesterat the university. forfurther and the lack of opportunity credits in mathematics in the five-year students take more than one hundred program. for example. Both programsare considerablyheavier than the correspondingprograms in the U. This representsabout six courses and may include one or two courses outside mathematics. a student takes an average of 18-20 credits. 27 Jul 2013 09:44:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .S.which is considered to be a mathematics major.666 MATHEMATICAL EDUCATION NOTES [June-July in theory. UDO has adopted a credit system similar to that used in the U. Texts are not as widespread as in the United States.There are widely use them strictlyfordrill.The other. Usually the students do not have a choice of courses. Many professors theirown notes. 6.At the same time. or Social Science. in part. Others include such subjects as differential and theory are veryoutdated and includesuch coursesas sphericaltrigonometry of equations.. types of mathematicsdegrees offered. Many courses have also use and sell an official text. than the partare much stricter. and although still influencedby the pensums. classroom.252.it promises to give more flexibility and adaptability to both the departmentand the students. these About all that is available to a facilitiesin Venezuela are almost non-existent. program The five-year at most universities. Programs.86. the studentsbeing less attentive and less orderlyin the however.83 on Sat.in. Some professors incorporate the drill in the lectures. spreading it over several class periods. (There are several ways of passing a failed course. Several of the universitiesalso offer this program. The full-time professors time facultyand those with highertrainingtend to be even more so. This content downloaded from 129.He then passes the semesteras a unit. or double majors. the department offersa pensum. This is caused. ignore the drills altogether. very little work is taken outside the department.At UDO.it must have been passed. although if a previous course is a prerequisite.S. Humanities. is a five-year programand is offered is is not quite the equivalent of a Master's degree although a thesis usually a partial requirement. English. There are two different program for prospective high school teachers The most popular is a four-year and is the only programavailable at the IP's. not the individual courses. In a given semester. much of the learningand teachingis superficial. forexample. others differing uses of these hours. With the exceptions of the libraries at UC and UDO. and other professors fromwhat is normally enDiscipline in classes and exams is far different countered in the U. Libraries. but not all students buy it. are unknown.S. Instead.intendedto help overcomethislack of outside work.

" which makes them appear almost unresolvable. The basic hypotheseswere: 1.secondary. As in everything. have a special character. with its experimental nature and approach.252. The experimental(abstract) group will show a higherachievementin learningthe theoryof groups.86. rings. Two sequences of lesson plans were developed in detail. UDO's libraryhas a wider choice oI books at all levels. due chiefly to the fact that the mathematicsdepartmentreceived $10. Two tests were constructed from these results: one to be This content downloaded from 129. The Universityof Oriente. with student participation kept to a followedby examples illustrating weregiven first.sometimesreferred to as "Latin. In the concreteapproach.The students were then encouraged to participate in disthese concrete examples. and several ofthe universities are tryingto build better departmentsthat are beginningto shed the service role which has been theirprimaryfunction.and university. CARUSO. one forthe abstract approach and the other for the concrete approaclh.rings.Proofs of ten theoremson groups wvere sented deductively. 27 Jul 2013 09:44:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 2.the scarcity of texts is of crucial importance. could be a strongmodernizing factorif its influence could be spread to the otheruniversities.In the abstract approach. Judged overall. mathematics is not very popular in Venezuela.UC's libraryis more establishedand has a bettercollection of journals. Minnesota studywas conductedat Nassau CommunityCollege during An experimental of the abstract approach 1965 and 1966 to determinethe relative effectiveness and the concrete approach of teaching the theoryof groups. Eaclh consisted of eleven a pilot study 50-minutelessons and extended over a four-weekperiod. Fromn on the results of a preceding the experimentan item analysis was performed preliminarytest.Still there are little prospects for a "market" outside of the universities. The most immediateneed at the presentis qualified teachersat all levelsprimary.and in the secondary schools a curriculumrevision is the problemsofthe departments and universities long overdue. The experimental ment in delayed recall of these systemsthan the control group. 7. rigorousdefinitions then prethe propertiesof the systems.and fields to freshmen.(professorseven have to purchase their personal texts) and these are only available through the Caracas bookstores.For the universities.and fieldsthan the group will show a higherachievecontrol (concrete) group. specificexamples of the systems were presentedfirst.Lea College on Lake Chapeau. Conclusion. minimum. More attentionis graduallybeing paid to it. cussions aimed at discoveringgeneralizations fromn The proofsof theoremsfollowedparticularexamples and problemsexemplifyillg each theorem.000 in 1966 fromthe International Development Bank to purchase books and journals. E.19681 MATHEMATICAL EDUCATION NOTES 667 professoror a student are those books he buys himself.83 on Sat. TEACHING GROUP THEORY TO COLLEGE FRESHMEN G.

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