Using Mathematical Modelling to Inform Design of General Education Courses: Creating Synergisms and Reducing Trade-offs

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsConference Paper (other)Researchpeer-review


General education courses, and general education programs in general, are designed to meet a number of different, and sometimes competing goals. For example, class time allocated to learning content material may not be able to be used to simultaneously increase communication ability. How should educators decide the allocation of valuable resources such as classroom time, student effort, and other limited resources to maximize the effectiveness of General Education courses and programs? Although mathematical modelling has been an effective tool for informing research and practice in areas such as science, engineering, and economics, education theory has remained largely verbal. Here I will attempt to illustrate the utility of mathematical modelling by exploring how developing optimality models can guide education decisions. Two of the important intended learning outcomes of “Natural Disasters: Science and Society” course I teach as part of the Science, Technology, and Society Cluster at Lingnan University are (1) for students to apply the “scientific method” to answer questions and (2) for students to be able to explain and apply content knowledge related to earthquakes. The results of optimality models indicate that the “value” of a class can be maximized when learning associate with two different areas are positively synergistic and when resource allocation tradeoffs are reduced. I will discuss how I used this conclusion to develop class activities to attempt to maximize student attainment of course learning goals.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2017
EventGeneral Education Conference 2017: Evolution and Transformation - The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong
Duration: 15 Jun 201716 Jun 2017 (Conference website)


ConferenceGeneral Education Conference 2017
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityHung Hom
Internet address


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