This article reports on results gained through action research activities during 2000-2002 at the University of Pretoria. The research involved first year engineering students on an extended five year study programme and first year civil engineering students on a regular four year study programme in the School of Engineering as well as first year science students on an extended study programme in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. The thinking style preferences of these groups of students, taking a first course in calculus, were assessed and the study orientation in mathematics of the engineering students on the extended study
programme were determined. Analysis of the thinking style preferences of the students
indicates a diversity representing an array of preferences distributed across all four
quadrants as measured by the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument and differences were
found between the thinking style preferences of science students and engineering students. Analysis of data obtained from the Study Orientation Questionnaire in Mathematics Tertiary
gives an indication of the expected level of performance of students in a first semester course in calculus. It is envisaged that freshman engineering students on a support course can seemingly benefit from a learning facilitation strategy for mathematics that is aimed at
developing the mathematics potential of the learners, fostering awareness of thinking style preferences and improving study orientation in mathematics.