Journal Article

Increasing the impact of mathematics support on aiding student transition in higher education

M. Gallimore and J. Stewart

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

Volume 33, issue 2, pages 98-109
Published in print June 2014 | ISSN: 0268-3679
Published online April 2014 | e-ISSN: 1471-6976 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/teamat/hru008
Increasing the impact of mathematics support on aiding student transition in higher education

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The ever growing gap between secondary and university level mathematics is a major concern to higher education institutions. The increase in diversity of students’ background in mathematics, with entry qualifications ranging from the more traditional A-level programmes to BTEC or international qualifications is compounded where institutions attempt to widen participation. For example, work-based learners may have been out of education for prolonged periods and, consequently, are often unprepared for the marked shift in levels, and catering for all abilities is difficult in the normal lecture, tutorial format. Lack of sufficient mathematical knowledge not only affects students’ achievement on courses but also leads to disengagement and higher drop-out rates during the first 2 years of study. Many universities now offer a maths support service in an attempt to overcome these issues, but their success is varied. This article presents a novel approach to maths support designed and adopted by the University of Lincoln, School of Engineering, to bridge this transition gap for students, offer continued support through Assessment for Learning and Individual Learning Plans, and ultimately increase student achievement, engagement and retention. The article then extends this proven approach and discusses recently implemented enhancements through the use of online diagnostic testing and a ‘student expert’ system to harness mathematical knowledge held by those gifted and talented students (often overlooked by higher education institutions) and to promote peer-to-peer mentoring. The article shows that with the proven system in place, there is a marked increase in student retention compared with national benchmark data, and an increase in student engagement and achievement measured through student feedback and assessments. Although the online enhancements are in the early stages of implementation, it is expected, based on these results, that further improvements will be shown.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Mathematics ; Mathematical Education ; Education

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