22 SES 12 C, How to Teach….in HE?
It is well-known that students entering higher education often have maths knowledge which is below university requirements. University teachers face a challenging task of teaching such students: students with poor maths knowledge tend to struggle with assessments and face an increased probability of dropping out. This situation occurs not only on maths-intensive courses but also on programmes with low maths content. To remedy this situation, universities across Europe have introduced maths support provision alongside university courses. Maths support provision varies across countries and universities: it can be limited by academic staff availability, and other resource constraints. But how can this support motivate students with weaknesses in maths knowledge to fully engage with the learning process?
The literature on maths support provision mainly focusses on quantitative indicators such as the numbers of maths support centres, support hours, students attending [1-3] or the correlation between exam results and workshop attendance . However, a growing volume of literature has demonstrated the effectiveness of peer-assisted learning and, in particular, the Supplemental Instruction (SI) model [e.g. 5] of collaborative learning as a form of support provision.
This paper analyses how maths support provision offered through workshops and Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions can motivate students to improve their maths knowledge and develop their competences. The research was carried out at Leeds Beckett University (UK) and University West (Sweden) and is part of an on-going research collaboration. Our previous research has demonstrated that students’ motivation and engagement with the learning process can be improved by introducing problem-based and peer-assisted learning into the maths support provision [6, 7]. SI sessions not only create the environment that facilitates collaborative learning but also encourage students to develop social competences through working in groups and communication with peers.
Both universities provide maths support mainly through drop-in workshops which are available throughout the week, and are open to all students. University West offers maths-intensive courses such as engineering alongside less maths-intensive courses. In 2014 a series of SI sessions were introduced on the Engineering “Core Maths” programme, a ‘high risk’ course where students often struggle to progress to the second year. Although Leeds Beckett University does not offer maths-intensive courses, maths forms a part of a number of subjects such as nursing, business, and education.
In this study we addressed the efficiency of the workshops and SI sessions in terms of students’ motivation to learn maths and competence development from the students’ perspectives.
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. Blanc, R.A., DeBuhr, L., and Martin, D.C. (1983) Breaking the attrition cycle: the effect of Supplemental Instruction on undergraduate performance and attrition. Journal of Higher Education, 54 (1), 80-89. 6. 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. 7. Nilsson, G., Luchinskaya, E., and Kristiansson, L. ‘Increasing university students’ motivation to improve maths knowledge in a workshop environment’. Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) conference, Porto, Portugal, September 2014.
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