24 SES 04 JS, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
Paper Session, Joint Session NW 22 and NW 24
Across Europe students entering universities have a diverse level of maths knowledge, which is often below university requirements. The main reasons which account for this fact are: poor quality of maths education and low students’ performance in maths in secondary schools (the recent PISA results demonstrate this); university lower their entry requirements to fill place on sometimes unpopular courses which are rather difficult or in response to higher tuitions fees (UK) to attract more students.
University teachers face a challenging and complex task of teaching such a diverse student body. The provision of maths support for university students has become a necessity. The way how it is organised varies across countries and universities; it can be limited by academic staff availability and/or time and cost constraints. But how this support can motivate students with weaknesses and gaps in maths knowledge to fully engage with the learning process?
The literature on maths support provision is growing but limited  and is mainly focussed on the analysis of the numbers of maths support centres, number of staff employed, hours when this support is available, number students attended [2, 3] or looking at the correlation between the diagnostics test results or exam results and the workshop attendance .
This study analyses the ways how maths support workshops can motivate students to improve their maths knowledge and develop skills and competences. The study was carried out in two universities: Leeds Metropolitan University, UK and University West, Sweden and is part of the on-going research activity between the two universities.
In both universities the main part of math support provision constitutes drop-in workshops which are available throughout the week. Leeds Metropolitan University does not offer very maths intensive courses, however, maths elements are included into a number of subject areas such as nursing, business, sports science psychology, education etc. Workshops cover two different areas such as maths clinic and statistical data analysis. There is a dedicated member of the support centre staff who runs these one-hour sessions. In this study we addressed the efficiency of the workshops in term of students’ motivation from the students’ and academic staff perspective
University West offers maths intensive courses such as engineering and computer science alongside with less maths intensive courses such as education and nursing. The offered workshops are open to all students and cover all subject areas.
1. J. Matthews, T. Croft, D. Lawson, D. Waller (2012) Evaluation of Mathematics support centres. University of Birmingham Press. 2. Perkin G. and Croft T., Mathematics Support Centres – the extent of current provision, MSOR Connections, May 2004, Vol. 6 No 2 p 14-18. 3. Lawson, D.A. and Reed, J (2002) University mathematics support centres: help for struggling students. In Ivanchev, D. and Todorov, M.D- (eds.), Applications of Mathematics in Engineering and Economics. Heron Press, Sofia, pp.686-692 4. Pell G. and Croft T., (2008), Mathematics Support – Support for all?, Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, 27 (4), pp. 167-173. 5. Luchinskaya, D., Luchinskaya, E., Nilsson, G. and Kristiansson, L., ‘Competence Development and Employability Prospects: Using Non-traditional Teaching Methods in a Changing Higher Education Environment.’ Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) conference, Helsinki, Finland, August 2010. 6.Luchinskaya, E. and Nilsson, G. ‘Do We Deliver an Effective Maths Support for Students?’ Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) conference, Cadiz, Spain, September 2012.
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