I’ve finally got around to publishing a course plan for Higher Apps next year (which can be downloaded here).

I want to share some rationale behind the order of the topics.

Last year, I taught the course in the following order: Statistics, Finance, Planning and then Modelling. The rationale for that was fairly simple- I taught topics I felt the most confident teaching first, to maximise the time I had to get to grips with the rest.

But one of my biggest takeaways from teaching the course this year is that Modelling really underpins everything. Sampling in statistics is a model, and hypothesis testing is a way of evaluating that model. Finance heavily uses recurrence relations, and PERT and Gannt charts again follow the theme of representing something complex as a simplified model. In a conference, a speaker from the SQA suggested this was why Modelling was the first part of the SQA specification, and it’s why I’ve put it front and centre.

Not all the students taking Higher Apps at my school will have come from National 5 Apps, some will have only studied National 5 Maths. I’ve tried to identify the key bits of prerequisite knowledge students need and placed them in the June period. Precedence tables are probably the clearest example of something students not studying Apps will have missed, along with tolerance and probability (though likely covered in BGE phase). Volume, gradient and converting units of measure will be important in the early part of mathematical modelling.

At the end of the Modelling section is spreadsheet skills. I’ll share more ideas on teaching this nearer the time, but this section can be used as a sneak preview for the rest of the course. Many of the spreadsheet skills required are statistical ones, or implementing recurrence relations, which foreshadow much of what is to come.

I decided to put Statistics second to give a bit of distance between the project and the exam. With students having to learn R Studio, it makes sense to get them using the new program early on into the course. I’ve given two weeks for the project.

Finance is the biggest section on the test. It’s also the topic that my students found to be the easiest of the whole course. Accumulation and present value feel like small extensions of appreciation and reverse percentage, the main barrier is getting used to using spreadsheets to implement the calculations.

Planning comes last. Last year, we covered PERT and Gannt charts in one week and the students were very confident with them.

I’ve also included the approximate date that the pre-release material will be released. This seemed to catch a few people off guard this year- it is worth putting a week to one side in your schemes of learning just for the pre-release. As we found out this year, the pre-release material can be meaty!

Happy Apping!