Guides & Case Studies resources
evaluation of mathematics support centres - a review of the literature (sigma)
This sigma guide reviews published literature concerning the evaluation of mathematics support centres. There is a growing body of research studies, which have looked into a number of areas such as: the establishment of a MSC; the usage of MSCs and mechanisms for recording usage data; feedback from students and staff and ways to collect this; effects on achievement, pass rates and retention rates; and the prevalence of MSCs in the higher education sector. More recently researchers have begun to examine the effects of MSCs on undergraduatesâ?? mathematics learning experiences and mathematical confidence, and to address issues concerning students who are â??at riskâ?? or underachieving and not engaging with the facilities offered by their MSC. This report reviews and synthesises all the available published research evidence so that informed decisions can be made about the value of mathematics support activity and the targeting of future funding.
Gathering student feedback on mathematics and statistics support provision - A guide for those running mathematics support centres (sigma)
This sigma guide has been written for those who are responsible for managing mathematics support centres. It is the culmination of a project involving staff from many support centres around the UK. Authored by Dr David Green, Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University, it contains a wealth of advice and information for those who want to gather student feedback, and contains examples of forms which are currently being used.
Getting started with effective entry of equations in Microsoft Word
This is one of four "Getting started with ..." developed by Cheryl Voake-Jones and Emma Cliffe from the Mathematics Resources Centre at the University of Bath covering equations in Word. The resource includes an audio tutorial with transcript and associated files. These resources were developed with funding from sigma.
Getting started with LaTeX
This is one of four "Getting started with ..." developed by Cheryl Voake-Jones and Emma Cliffe from the Mathematics Resources Centre at the University of Bath covering LaTeX. The resource includes an audio tutorial with transcript and associated files. These resources were developed with funding from sigma.
Good Practice in the Provision of Mathematics Support Centres (LTSN)
A second edition of the popular LTSN funded guide for those interested in the establishment and development of Mathematics Support Centres in universities and other institutes of higher education. Authors: Lawson, D., Croft, A.C. and Halpin, M.
How to setup a mathematics and statistics support provision guide (sigma)
This sigma guide is intended for anyone who is interested in setting up or enhancing a mathematics and/or statistics support provision. Authored by Ciaran Mac an Bhaird and Duncan Lawson, the guide covers the nature of mathematics and statistics support, staffing, resources, funding, supporting neurodiversity and provides references to literature in the field.
mathematics learning support in UK higher education - the extent of provision in 2012 (sigma)
This sigma guide reports on a survey conducted in 2012 to deteremine the number of UK universities that offer some form of mathemathics support and the nature of their provision.
Setting up a maths support centre (HE STEM)
The focus of this HE STEM guide is to provide mathematics support to students across all STEM disciplines to ease the transition from School/College in to University. This is a key factor influencing drop-out from STEM degrees and a targeted provision for mathematics support is a proven way to counter this. It includes cases studies from the Universities of Coventry, Portsmouth, York. Lincoln and Kent and articulates the experiences of the two Sigma Directors Professor Duncan Lawson, Coventry University and Professor Tony Croft, Loughborough University joint winners of the 2011 Times Higher Award for Outstanding Support for Students
Research Papers (3)
A Framework for Discussing the Location of the Maths Drop-in Workshop
A framework for discussing the location of a mathematics drop-in workshop by Ian beverage. Mathematics Support Newsletter, Issue 2, 1994.
A Report on the Feasibility of Mobile Devices for Mathematics Learning in Higher Education (sigma)
This sigma CETL report by Chengliang Hu presents an investigation into the educational potential of mobile devices in supporting mathematics teaching and learning. (2007) The zip file contains the full report and all appendices.
Assessing the Value: Maths Workshop
This article by Ian Beveridge reports on a study which attempts to measure some of the benefits of the workshop for Access Numeracy Students. Mathematics Support Newsletter, Issue 2, 1994. This brief contribution from IAN BEVERIDGE (then of Luton University) is probably one of the first recorded notes which attempts to assess the effectiveness of a mathematics support centre (herein called a Workshop). It describes a workshop for access students, and its role in encouraging students to complete coursework assignments. It notes that a lower dropout rate is found in the subgroup of workshop attenders. However, it draws attentions to a perceived shortcoming which can result in creating and feeding dependency rather than independence amongst the students. The note can be found in the Mathematics Support Association Newsletter No.2 (1994) (now disbanded).
Staff Resources (29)
A First Year Mathematics Transition Module based on Initial Assessment of the Skills of Incoming Students
The Transition Module is designed to audit the mathematical skills of incoming students and thereby design and implement appropriate teaching, learning and assessment strategies to ease the transition to university.
A Review of Student Support Computer Packages used in Universities
A review of MATHWISE Pre-Calculus and CALMAT.
A Review of the Engineering Maths First Aid Kit and the Algebra Refresher
New support mechanisms have been introduced for Engineering students in their first year at Lancaster University to help maintain standards in all subject areas that are underpinned by Mathematics. Resources that have already been developed by Loughborough University are being used in a slightly modified form to help students to work through and overcome any weakness in Mathematics. Help sheets from Engineering Maths First Aid Kit are used to reinforce student learning. All material is used with the help of tutors to form a good foundation for further studies.
And the winner is... mathematics support
At the Times Higher Awards ceremony on 24th November 2011, it was announced that Loughborough and Coventry Universities had won the award for Outstanding Support for Students, in recognition of the work of sigma, Centre for Excellence in University-wide mathematics and statistics support. Whilst sigma at Coventry and Loughborough Universities received the award, the real winner was mathematics and statistics support across the country. In this booklet, we outline how sigma's work has contributed to the growing recognition of the importance of mathematics and statistics support and to the development of a national and international community of practitioners. Authors : Ciaran Mac an Bhaird and Duncan Lawson
Changing Courseware with Diagnostic Testing
The Mathematics Department at Keele University has pioneered the use of diagnostic testing linked to Computer-Based Learning (CBL) self study modules for students entering Principal Mathematics. In particular, the department has invested in the use of Mathwise modules to provide support materials. Recent advances in software have produced a new generation of courseware but there is considerable inertia in changing to such new material without some evidence that students will benefit. This case study considers this problem and considers how diagnostic testing can be used to decide when to update the courseware being used.
Coventry University's Mathematics Support Centre's Website
The Mathematics Support Centre at Coventry University (originally known as the BP Maths Centre) was established in 1991. The Centre aims to provide early identification of problems and on-going support for individual students. This is achieved through use of diagnostic testing, the provision of a wide range of resources and the availability of one-to-one assistance on drop-in basis. The CentreÃ??Ã?Â¢??s website was launched in September 2000 to:
- extend the support provision to students who did not find it easy to visit the Centre (e.g. part-time students).
- provide access to a range of resources at times when the Centre is closed.
- deliver new support activities such as online practice tests and email questions.
Diagnostic Driven Support at UMIST
Students arriving in many of the UMIST departments are required to take a brief maths test on arrival. Mathematics students who underachieve on this test are assigned some questions relevant to sections where they did poorly and also referred to sections from texts and Internet notes. The studentÃ?Â¢??s attempt at the assigned questions acts as a basis for a feedback session. Certain students in other departments (receiving mathematics as a service course) are asked to complete a computerised assignment on areas where they underachieved. Again, they are provided with references to texts and Internet notes.
Diagnostic Testing and Student Support
Students on Engineering awards at UWE come from a range of academic backgrounds that include A2/AS-Level, B-TEC, Foundation year, overseas qualifications and mature students who in some cases are returning to education after an absence of over ten years. Ensuring that individuals from such a diverse population can develop the necessary mathematical skills and knowledge to cope with the demands of an Engineering award is clearly difficult. In this case study we describe the development of diagnostic testing at UWE and its role in a strategy for teaching mathematics to a large mixed ability group.
Diagnostic Testing for Mathematics
A comprehensive collection of case studies, intended to assist you with the challenge of enhancing the basic mathematical skills of engineering or science students. These case studies focus particularly on diagnostic testing.
Diagnostic Testing within Institutions - Cardiff University
All students are assessed using a paper-based, but optically marked, written test of 12 multi-choice questions (MCQs). The test covers algebraic simplification, approximation, logs, trigonometry and calculus. It is based on a test developed at Coventry University. It is used to assess students' strengths upon entry.
Fast Track Summer Mathematics Course at South Bank University
The first summer mathematics course ran during July and August of 1997, financed by South Bank University (SBU). In subsequent years the course became HEFCE funded. The Fast Track mathematics course was a specifically designed free summer course to help equip the students with those skills required to enter a degree of Higher National Diploma in science or technology. SBU established the six week daytime course, which helped students identify gaps in their knowledge and provided a tailor made mathematics learning programme. This course now runs every summer to equip new students with the mathematical skills required for a smooth transition into university.
Glasgow Caledonian University Mathematics Summer School
The Summer School has operated on the same general principles since 1991. It helps prepare students for entry into programmes for which they have a conditional offer. It features tailored instruction, flexible attendance and delivery and continuous supportive feedback.
This is a publicity leaflet for mathcentre showing resources that are available for students and staff.
Mathematics Summer School at Bell College of Technology
The Mathematics Summer School was run for the first time in September 2001, lasting one week immediately prior to the start of term. Many students admitted to courses in the School of Science and Technology are perceived to have major weaknesses in the type of fundamental algebra that underpins much of their analytical work, both in mathematics units per se and in other units. This development represents one strand of additional support given to such students; the fledgling Mathematics Support Unit can give such support as the course progresses. This initiative is not funded in any direct way and depends on the availability of already heavily committed staff.
Mathletics Diagnostic Tests
An academic perspective
Maths for Engineering and Science
A comprehensive collection of case studies, intended to assist you with the challenge of enhancing the basic mathematical skills of engineering or science students. These case studies focus particularly on embedding mathematics within the disciplines of engineering and science.
Maths Support for Students
A comprehensive collection of case studies, intended to assist you with the challenge of enhancing the basic mathematical skills of engineering or science students. These case studies focus particularly on mathematics support.
Open Learning Resource Centre at the University of Huddersfield
The Open Learning Resource Centre (OLRC) at the School of Computing and Mathematics, University of Huddersfield provides a quiet environment with seated study places for up to sixty students. The Centre originally operated from 8.30am to 4.30pm every day but that has now been extended to cater for the needs of part-time students. Every day a tutor provides a surgery on a one-to-one basis to answer questions posed in mathematics, statistics or operational research (MSOR). It was also commended by the QAA Visiting Panel during a recent Teaching Quality Assessment.
Peer Support in Mathematics at the University of Leicester
Peer Support (PS) has been running in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Leicester for the past 9 years. In this scheme students from the second and third years (called leaders from now on) help first year students in their efforts to assimilate first year material. The help occurs in small timetabled groups containing up to 8 or 10 first years and 2 to 4 leaders. In its first year the scheme had 6 second year leaders and now we have typically between 15 and 20 second and third year leaders.The number of first year students taking part in the scheme has also grown from about 10% of students in the early years to around 50% of students making some use of the scheme at some stage in the year.
This is a publicity leaflet showing resources from statstutor (www.statstutor.ac.uk) that are available for statistics support for students and staff.
Student Proctors: A Peer Support System
The date of the formal introduction of student proctors within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences is unclear. However, we have certainly been using student proctors for more than ten years. The purpose is to offer students the opportunity to learn from their peers in a one-to-one situation. Within the Faculty three departments have a student proctor programme each of which runs in much the same way but with differences which reflect the different custom and practice of each department.
Study Advice Services incorporating the Mathematical Advice and Co-ordination Service at The University of Hull
Mathematical Advice and Co-ordination Service (MACS) was established in 1995 within the Faculty of Mathematics to support students within their studies at the University and to help prepare them to go into the world. Funding was made available for an initial period of 3 years and was then continued on a year-to-year basis. The emphasis has changed over the years and most of the work is now linked to studentsÃ?Â¢?? current problems but also includes help for those facing employersÃ?Â¢?? tests at interview. The University accepted that the concept of student support offered in Mathematics needed to be extended into other areas and, through The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), established the Student Advice Service (SAS). The SAS is now a permanent feature of the University serving any member of the student body (and indeed staff) who might benefit from what it offers. The remainder of this case study considers only the mathematical part of the SAS, though many of the comments apply to the other areas of the SAS (Academic English, Study Skills and ICT).
The Education Drop-in Centre at the University of Glamorgan
The education Drop-in Centre at the University of Glamorgan was established during the academic year 1996/97. Its aim has always been to provide generic study support for students with writing and study skills as well as mathematics and statistics skills. Since its creation the Centre has been through a variety of changes in terms of staffing and layout. It has grown steadily each year and now comprises of two sites and seventeen staff, three full-time administrators and fourteen part-time tutors. The Centre is seen to play a key part in retaining students and has become part of the fabric of the University.
The Mathematics Learning Support Centre at Loughborough University
The Centre was established in 1996 within the Department of Mathematical Sciences in order to underpin the Department's service teaching commitment to engineering undergraduates. In the first instance funding had been made available through an internal university learning and teaching initiative for a period of two years. Because of its early successes the Centre became a permanent feature in 1998 and now serves any student in the university who might benefit from additional resources, over and above those normally provided, to help them in their learning of basic mathematical techniques.
The Provision of Maths Learning Support at De Montfort University, Leicester
The Maths Learning Centre (MLC) was first established as a library service in 1994 but initially struggled for funding and recognition at a wider University level. Since 2000 it has been incorporated into the centrally funded Student Learning Advisory Service (SLAS).
The Study Support Centre, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen
The Study Support Centre (SSC), within the Robert Gordon University (RGU), aims to provide students with assistance in Mathematics, Writing & Communication skills, Information & Communication Technology applications, Statistics, Study Skills and support for dyslexic students. The SSC offers students independent assistance through individual and small group tuition outwith their normal programme of study, as well as Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) packages, specialist software for special needs students and text based self-learning materials. The SSC has created a basic mathematics diagnostic assessment, which we give to first year students in many Schools. Currently, in collaboration with the School of Engineering, an engineering principles diagnostic assessment is being designed and implemented.
The Weekly Mathematics Clinic at the University of Derby
The Mathematics Clinic is provided throughout the teaching year.
- Offered on a drop-in basis to ALL university students accessing mathematical modules.
- Timetabled to be accessible to all Stage One and Stage Two specialist mathematics students, (main users: Stage One students in first semester).
- Clinic is staffed by friendly, approachable and experienced members of staff.
- Feedback confirms student appreciation of this facility.
Top-Up Courses at Napier University
Wider access students i.e. those people who have narrowly missed the entrance requirements, are given a chance to "topup" their mathematical knowledge before entering Napier University. They can study at their own pace over the summer vacation. There is regular communication with a university tutor and extra study sessions are held during August at the University.
Using Computer Based Tests to allow Multiple Attempts at Assessment
Computer based assessment has been used at UWE for a number of years on certain modules run by the School of Mathematical Sciences. In this case study we discuss the operation of the assessment for a first year engineering mathematics module in which students are permitted multiple attempts and are allowed, within an specified period of time, to choose when they take the assessment. Feedback from students has been highly positive about the assessment regime and our observation is that operating the tests in this way does encourage students to work steadily throughout the year.