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

Gallimore, Michael and Stewart, Jill (2014) Increasing the impact of mathematics support on aiding student transition in higher education. Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, 33 (2). pp. 98-109. ISSN 0268-3679

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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 two years of study. Many universities now offer a maths support service in an attempt to overcome these issues, but their success is varied. This paper 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 (AFL) and Individual Learning Plans (ILP’s), and ultimately increase student achievement, engagement and retention. The paper then extends this proven approach and discusses recently implemented enhancements through the use of on-line 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 paper 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 on-line enhancements are in the early stages of implementation it is expected, based on these results, that further improvements will be shown.

Keywords:Mathematics support, Engineering, diagnostic testing, Assessment for learning, Student mentoring, Transition, JCOpen
Subjects:X Education > X900 Others in Education
Divisions:College of Science > School of Engineering
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ID Code:13478
Deposited On:07 Mar 2014 13:42

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