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Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA Advance Access

Published: Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2018 09:52:02 GMT


Community perspectives of mathematics and statistics support in higher education: the role of the staff member

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Mathematics support now forms a widely accepted and important part of the provision of higher education institutions within the UK and Ireland to assist students within their learning of mathematics and statistics, particularly as they make the transition to university study. Over the last 15 years it has seen growth as an area of scholarship, and behind this has been the role of those staff members who oversee, develop, deliver and research mathematics support within their institutions. To date, however, there has been little work that explores the roles, opportunities and recognition afforded to such individuals, but this is important if visibility for mathematics support as part of the provision and practice of higher education institutions is to continue to grow and a sustainable community of practitioners is to be established. Here we report on a survey of 51 individuals with responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the mathematics and statistics support provision within their institutions. Findings show that the majority of staff with such responsibility for the delivery of mathematics support within institutions are in permanent roles and that in many instances this forms the sole focus of their employment; there also exists an important and visible role for postgraduates in the delivery of mathematics support. Finally, there is evidence that most staff working in this area feel recognized and well supported with opportunities to develop their roles, engage with professional development and contribute to a national community of practice.

Teaching study skills in mathematics service courses—how to cope with students’ refusal?

Thu, 28 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Many freshmen entering university have difficulties with finishing their mathematics courses successfully in the first year due to insufficient study skills and learning strategies, which on the one hand include general skills and strategies and on the other hand context-specific skills and strategies for university mathematics. In mathematics service courses for students of disciplines other than mathematics, for example engineering or economics, the effect of poor study skills is even worse due to large course sizes and great diversity regarding the students’ prior knowledge. Therefore, since 2010, first-year students of economics at the University of Paderborn are offered a methodological support program named CAT, which is integrated into the regular course context. The name CAT emerges from three important support-tools of the program (called instruments): Checklist, Ampel (English: Traffic Lights), Toolbox. Although some students claimed that CAT was helpful from the beginning (and a positive effect on academic achievement had also been proven in an experimental tutorial) the majority of students did not use the strategies provided by CAT at first. This was the initial point for a research project with the aim to raise the acceptance of CAT and thus to get more students to use the effective study skills provided by CAT. With the help of this research project, it was possible to identify reasons why students did not use the skills and strategies of CAT, to draw adequate conclusions concerning the implementation of CAT in the course and to raise the acceptance of CAT considerably in the following year. The results of the research project can be useful especially for developers of similar support programs and for teachers and lecturers, who also try to integrate study skills into mathematics courses at university.