The many faces of the mathematical modeling cycle

J.C. Perrenet, B. Zwaneveld

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    In literature about mathematical modeling a diversity can be seen in ways of presenting the modeling cycle. Every year, students in the Bachelor’s program Applied Mathematics of the Eindhoven University of Technology, after having completed a series of mathematical modeling projects, have been prompted with a simple three-step representation of the modeling cycle. This representation consisted out of 1) problem translation into a mathematical model, 2) the solution to mathematical problem, and 3) interpretation of the solution in the context of the original problem. The students’ task was to detail and complete this representation. Their representations also showed a great diversity. This diversity is investigated and compared with the representations of the students’ teachers. The representations with written explanations of 77 students and 20 teachers are analyzed with respect to the presence of content aspects such as problem analysis, worlds/models/knowledge other than mathematical, verification, validation, communication and reflection at the end of the modeling process. Also form aspects such as iteration and complexity are analyzed. The results show much diversity within both groups concerning the presence or absence of aspects. Validation is present most, reflection least. Only iteration (one is passing the modeling cycle) more than once is significantly more present in the teachers’ group than in the students’ group. While accepting diversity as a natural phenomenon, the authors plea for incorporating all aspects mentioned into mathematical modeling education.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3-21
    Number of pages19
    JournalJournal of Mathematical Modelling and Application
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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