# Measuring the Effectiveness of Mathematics Support resources

### Research Papers (40)

A Hub Service: Extending the Support Provided by One Institution to Students of Other Local Institutions

C. Trott, S. Drew &, and H. Maddocks. (2013) A Hub Service: Extending the Support Provided by One Institution to Students of Other Local Institutions. MSOR Connections 13(1), 18-23. DOI: 10.11120/msor.2013.13010018
We report on the experience of Loughborough University’s Eureka Centre for Mathematical Confidence in establishing a small pilot project to provide one-to-one mathematics support for neurodiverse students who attend other local universities and where no such provision is available. We outline the background to the scheme and report on the three students involved.
Read More: http://journals.heacademy.ac.uk/doi/abs/10.11120/msor.2013.13010018

A Multifaceted Approach to Numeracy Support for Life Sciences Students

Undergraduate life sciences studies require students to possess certain key numeracy skills and these same skills are sought from graduates by employers. Since September 2011 we have offered optional attendance drop-in sessions and locally produced online resources to support students with the numeracy requirements of our life sciences undergraduate courses. Details of the content of this support along with attendance figures and importantly student feedback are presented here.
Chrystalla Ferrier: (2013) A Multifaceted Approach to Numeracy Support for Life Sciences Students. MSOR Connections 13(2), 24-30. DOI: 10.11120/msor.2013.00013

A Practitioner’s Guide to Implementing Cross-Disciplinary Links in a Mathematics Support Program

With widening participation in the university sector and the reduction in pre-requisites for entry into many university science courses, students are arriving at university with reduced competencies in mathematics. As quantitative skills are crucial for study in science, under-preparation has direct effects on multiple disciplines. The Maths Skills Program for first year science and statistics students at La Trobe University was developed in collaboration with science coordinators to provide students with mathematics support that highlights the relevance of mathematics to their disciplines. In evaluating the program, both the students and science coordinators were surveyed. The student responses on questionnaires indicated the students saw the relevance of the program to their educational goals, believed the questions written in context helped them learn their subject, and the focus on relevance helped them understand how mathematics was related to their subject. This was in line with the responses from the science coordinators who found the program to be relevant to their disciplines and assisted students in applying mathematics in context.
Deborah C. Jackson, Elizabeth D. Johnson, Tania M. Blanksby. (2014) A Practitioner’s Guide to Implementing
Cross-Disciplinary Links in a Mathematics Support Program. IJISME, Vol 22, No 1.
http://openjournals.library.usyd.edu.au/index.php/CAL/article/view/6898

An Evaluation of the Use of a Nursing Medication Formula Card as an Educational Tool

This paper by Shazia Ahmed, Jane Joy, and Deirdre Moriarty describes the evaluation of a formula card for nursing students created at the University of Glasgow. (2013) MSOR Connections 13(1), 41-44. DOI: 10.11120/msor.2013.13010041

CETL-MSOR Conference Proceeding 2006

Proceedings of the CETL-MSOR Conference 2006, held at Loughborough University 11-12 September 2006, edited by David Green and published by the MSOR Network.

Developing a statistical advisory service through effective partnerships

Statistical Advisory Services are an innovative and valued approach to providing statistical advice centrally to final year undergraduate and postgraduate students. This paper reflects on the experiences of a new UK university in developing such a service through a HE STEM Practice Transfer Adopters partnership project. The Project’s adopted strategies to partner with other university stakeholders are evaluated. In particular, partnerships with faculty- based staff and running staff development training courses are identified as effective development strategies.
Peter Samuels and Maggie Gibson (2013) Developing a statistical advisory service through effective
partnerships, HEA STEM, http://wwwnew1.
heacademy.ac.uk/assets/Documents/disciplines/stem/conf-proceedings-
2013/MSOR/full%20papers/msor_062.pdf

Do We Deliver Effective Maths Support for Students?

Nilsson, Galina and Luchinskaya, Elena. (2012) Do We Deliver Effective Maths Support for Students? The European Conference on Educational Research 2012: Cadiz, 18-21 September 2012 http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-4860. This study analyses the efficiency of maths support provision in two universities: Leeds Metropolitan University, UK and University West, Sweden and is part of an ongoing research collaboration between the two universities. The present work reflects the first stage of this research and is focused on evaluating the efficiency of the maths support in these two institutions from the perspectives of academic staff. The next stage of our research will include the analysis of this provision from the students' perspectives.

Dyslexia in Higher Education: Implications for Maths Anxiety

This study examined levels of mathematics and statistics anxiety, as well as general mental health amongst undergraduate students with dyslexia (n?=?28) and those without dyslexia (n?=?71). Students with dyslexia had higher levels of mathematics anxiety relative to those without dyslexia, while statistics anxiety and general mental health were comparable for both reading ability groups. In terms of coping strategies, undergraduates with dyslexia tended to use planning-based strategies and seek instrumental support more frequently than those without dyslexia. Higher mathematics anxiety was associated with having a dyslexia diagnosis, as well as greater levels of worrying, denial, seeking instrumental support and less use of the positive reinterpretation coping strategy. By contrast, statistics anxiety was not predicted by dyslexia diagnosis, but was instead predicted by overall worrying and the use of denial and emotion focused coping strategies. The results suggest that disability practitioners should be aware that university students with dyslexia are at risk of high mathematics anxiety. Additionally, effective anxiety reduction strategies such as positive reframing and thought challenging would form a useful addition to the support package delivered to many students with dyslexia.
Jordan J.-A., McGladdery G. and Dyer K. (2014), Dyslexia in Higher Education: Implications for Maths Anxiety,
Statistics Anxiety and Psychological Well-being, Dyslexia, 20 (3), pages 225–240, doi: 10.1002/dys.1478

Evaluation of mathematics support centres: a literature review

Janette Matthews, Tony Croft, Duncan Lawson, and Dagmar Waller. (2013) Evaluation of mathematics support centres: a literature review. Teaching Mathematics Applications. first published online September 3, 2013 doi:10.1093/teamat/hrt013
Mathematics Support Centres (MSCs) have been established at universities in the UK and a number of other countries, of which colleagues from Australia and Ireland have been the most prolific in publishing about their work. Their main functions are to address issues surrounding the transition to university mathematics and to support students’ learning of mathematics and statistics across the wide variety of undergraduate courses.
There is a growing body of research examining the operation and impact of MSCs. This article will review and synthesize available published research evidence so that informed decisions can be made about the value of mathematics support activity and the targeting of future funding. Evidence will be shown of the evaluation of MSCs in each of the following areas:
the collection of data and the challenges that are presented in both quantitative and qualitative studies;
analysis demonstrating MSC usage and activity;
analysis showing the impact of MSCs on students, staff and the institution.
The article will conclude by identifying areas where further research would be helpful.

Evaluation of the University of Limerick Mathematics Learning Centre

In a time when mathematical unpreparedness is rife and learning support is most urgently needed, this investigation by Claire Carroll and supervised by Dr. Olivia Gill. (2011)
seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the mathematics learning centre in the University of Limerick. Qualitative and quantitative data on the impact of the mathematics learning centre on the students' mathematics education and students' attitudes towards mathematics were collected through the use of student questionnaires. Analysis of this data provides significant evidence that the mathematics learning centre is making an invaluable contribution to the mathematical experience of the students who are availing of its services. The results of this study strongly support the belief that mathematics learning centres have the potential to provide students with both the affective and cognitive support that is so critical to many of the students entering third level education presently.

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

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.
M. Gallimore and J. Stewart, (2014) Increasing the impact of mathematics support on aiding student
transition in higher education., Teaching Mathematics Applications, 33 (2), 98-109, doi:10.1093/teamat/hru008

Investigating the Engagement of Mature Students with Mathematics Learning Support

The Mathematics Learning Support Centre (MLSC) in the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) provides free mathematical support to all DIT students. This support is primarily delivered through a drop-in service, where students can receive one-to-one tuition, without an appointment, in any area of mathematics. In the first semester of the 2013/14 academic year a significant proportion (approximately 42%) of students that availed of this drop-in service were mature students enrolled in Engineering programmes. This is of particular interest as mature students constitute a relatively small proportion of the total student body, motivating a deeper study of the reasons for the high levels of engagement in this cohort. To this end two focus groups were conducted, involving both those who did and did not attend the MLSC. Particular interest was paid to the motivations for attendance/reasons for non-attendance. The motivations of mature students were found to be multifaceted while the reasons for non-engagement given were mostly in line with the literature. In addition some quantitative analysis was carried to determine what effect the MLSC had on studentâ??s academic performance.
Cormac Breen, Michael Carr and Mark Prendergast (2014) Investigating the Engagement of Mature Students
with Mathematics Learning Support. Proceedings of the 17th Mathematics Working Group Seminar, Dublin
2014, http://sefi.htwaalen.
de/Seminars/Dublin2014/17th%20SEFIMWG%20Seminar/Tuesday%20Session%201/MWG2014_Breen.pdf

Investigation of completion rates of engineering students

This paper by ROSS CUTHBERT and HELEN MACGILLIVRAY discusses analysis of data on initiatives to improve retention rates on engineering degree programmes at Queensland University of Technology in Australia. The paper was presented at Delta 07 - the Southern Hemisphere Symposium on Undergraduate Mathematics Teaching. The Mathematics Access Centre at QUT offers optional extra support and examination workshops. The paper reports that students accessing these are nearly twice as likely to complete the course as the whole cohort, and half as likely to discontinue engineering. (2007)

Is Mathematics Support worthwhile ? An overview of the 3rd Irish Workshop on Mathematics Learning and Support Centres

This paper, by Mac an Bhaird & O'Shea, is an overview of the 3rd Irish Irish Workshop on Mathematics Support and Learning Centres. Being able to accurately evaluate support centre services is a very important issue. We hosted this conference inviting speakers from support centres in Ireland and leading experts in the UK to discuss the procedures they use to evaluate their services. This paper is an overview of the talks given and contains many relevant links for similar material in the area

Justifying the existence of Mathematics Learning Support; Measuring the effectiveness of a Mathematics Learning Centre

In this paper by Olivia Gill and John O'Donoghue, the authors look at various ways of measuring the success of the Mathematics Learning Centre at the University of Limerick.

Learning Support and students studying mathematics and statistics

FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS YOU MAY BE UNABLE TO ACCESS THIS LINK DIRECTLY. This paper, by Helen MacGillivray, Queensland University of Technology, describes learning support in mathematics and statistics in Australian universities. Analysis of data for students studying mathematics and statistics contributes to growing evidence that such learning support is fulfilling needs across the range of student capabilities, including students choosing mathematics degree programs.
It is published in the International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology:
Volume 40, Issue 4, First published 2009, Pages 455-472, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/.VC0o4b4r8rc

Mathematics Support - support for all ?

FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS DIRECT ACCESS TO THIS PAPER MAY BE UNAVAILABLE.
Mathematics Support - support for all ? Godfrey Pell & Tony Croft, published in the journal Teaching Mathematics and its Applications (2008) doi: 10.1093/teamat/hrn015.
This research paper describes and analyses data from a cohort of engineering students.
Some made good use of a mathematics learning support centre; others didn't.
Many frequent users are quite competent and simply want to do better. The authors conclude, that in their particular study, mathematics support improved the pass rate by about 3%.

Measuring maths study support

FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS DIRECT ACCESS TO THIS PAPER MAY BE UNAVAILABLE. This research paper by Chetna Patel and John Little, Robert Gordon University,
presents evidence that maths study support can increase maths related module pass rates and scores for undergraduate engineering students.
The paper is published in Teaching Mathematics and its Applications (2006) 25 (3): 131-138.
doi: 10.1093/teamat/hri031.

Measuring the effectiveness of a maths learning support centre - the DCU experience

This research paper by Donal Dowling and Brien Nolan, Dublin City University, reports upon efforts to measure the effectiveness of the Maths Learning Centre at Dublin City University. It provides a model of measuring effectiveness which compares the pass rates of "at risk" students who did or did not visit the mathematics support centre. The model shows that in each of the two years studied the centre made a direct contribution to the success of approximately 11 students. The paper was presented at the CETL MSOR Conference in September 2006.

Offering Training to Postgraduates who Tutor in Mathematics Support Centres

Tony Croft, Shazia Ahmed, Verity Aiken, Leslie Fletcher, Michael Grove, Andrew Mead, Chetna Patel, and Robert Wilson: (2013) Offering Training to Postgraduates who Tutor in Mathematics Support Centres. MSOR Connections 13(1), 3-7. DOI: 10.11120/msor.2013.13010003
This report summarises the deliberations which took place during a workshop held to discuss issues to consider when recruiting and training postgraduates to work in mathematics support centres. It distils the current wisdom of a group of mathematics support professionals with experience of managing and tutoring in mathematics support centres. There exists an active national network (the sigma network) for those involved in university mathematics and statistics support; this report concludes by identifying how members of the higher education community may participate in this network.

Participation (Diagnosis + Prescription) = Resolution

This paper by CHETNA PATEL, The Robert Gordon University, demonstrates how appropriate mathematical diagnosis followed by study support improves engineering students' performance.
The paper is published in MSOR Connections (Vol. 4 No.2) May 2004.

Piloting an online mathematics and statistics tutoring service

Pettigrew, J., & Shearman, (2014) D. Piloting an online mathematics and statistics tutoring service.
30th ascilite Conference 2013 Proceedings,
http://ascilite.org.au/conferences/sydney13/program/papers/Pettigrew.pdf.
In early 2013 the Mathematics Education Support Hub at the University of Western Sydney launched a tutoring service to support students’ mathematical and statistical learning in an online environment. Until the end of its pilot implementation in mid 2013, the service operated at all times as a moderated question and answer forum located within the University’s Learning Management System (a version of Blackboard Learn known as vUWS). It also featured a ‘virtual classroom’, which allowed students to interact with mathematics and statistics support staff in a web conferencing space equipped with a wide range of digital communication tools. This paper refers to the service as it was offered in discussing a range of general issues and questions associated with its pilot implementation. Particular attention is given to the issues of pedagogy in a purely online teaching and learning context and communicating asynchronously and synchronously using mathematical language and notation.

Predicting Performance of first year engineering students and the importance of assessment tools therein

This research paper by Lee, Harrison, Pell and Robinson presents statistical regression models which aim to predict overall first year mechanical engineering students' performance. Data was collected on overall first year mark against 14 variables. The regression models produced showed the positive effect of almost one grade boundary of students visiting the mathematics learning support centre.
The paper is published in Engineering Education, 2008, 3(1), 44-51. DOI: 10.11120/ened.2008.03010044

Preparing students for university mathematics through a maths readiness workshop

First year science students often lack confidence at the start of their course regarding their mathematical skills. A maths
readiness workshop has been designed at Monash University Gippsland campus to give students confidence in their
mathematical ability prior to the beginning of semester. It also helps students to identify very early if they should opt in to the
various maths support programs offered at the campus. The workshop has been designed in conjunction with first year coordinators
to specifically target mathematical content relevant to first year biology and chemistry including rearranging formulae,
logarithms and exponentials, and physical quantities and their units. Students self-select into the workshop based on a short
presentation during O-week activities. Results of student evaluations and reflections of the facilitators will be presented.
Barbie C. Panther, Samantha Black, Jo-ann Larkins (2013) Preparing students for university mathematics through a maths readiness workshop. Proceedings of the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, Australian National University, Sept 19th to Sept 21st, 2013, page 57, ISBN Number 978-0-9871834-2-2.

Provision of maths support for student in higher education institutions

Nilsson, Galina and Luchinskaya, D. (2012) Provision of maths support for student in higher education institutions, The 40th Annual Congress of the Nordic Educational Research Association: March 8-10, 2012, Copenhagen, http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-4859
This study analyses the efficiency of maths support provision in two universities: Leeds Metropolitan University, UK and Högskolan Väst, Sweden. This is an on-going collaboration between two universities and in this paper we present the results of this study focussing on the academic staff prospective, using questionnaires, observations and interviews with tutors.

Responding to the Mathematics Problem : The Implementation of Institutional Support Mechanisms

This volume arose from a conference, 'Addressing the Quantitative Skills Gap: Establishing
and Sustaining Cross-Curricular Mathematical Support in Higher Education', held at the
University of St Andrews in 2007. The aim of that conference, and of this volume of
collected essays, is to explore the logistics and economics of establishing and sustaining
institution-wide mathematics support provision.
We explore a range models for delivering mathematical support accommodating an even
wider range of budgets. Additionally, we identify how universities can call upon their maths
support provision to demonstrate that they are addressing institutional agendas including
quality enhancement, employability and skills, the first year experience, flexible delivery,
retention, and the student learning experience. Looking to the future we note how
mathematics support has broadened from its original focus on the STEM subjects and
discuss how emerging technologies are being exploited for its provision.

Strengthening student engagement with quantitative subjects in a Business Faculty

This paper reflects on the results of research undertaken at a large UK university relating to the teaching of quantitative subjects within a Business Faculty. It builds on a simple model of student engagement and, through the description of three case studies, describes research undertaken and developments implemented to strengthen aspects of the model, enhance student engagement and help meet the requirements of employers in terms of graduate skills. The paper also outlines some areas for future research.
Jon Warwick and Anna Howard (2014) Strengthening student engagement with quantitative subjects in a
Business Faculty. e-Journal of Business Education & Scholarship of Teaching, 8(1) pp: 32-43.
http://www.ejbest.org/upload/eJBEST_Warwick_Howard_-_8(1)_2014.pdf

Student non-engagement with mathematics learning supports

Ciarán Mac an Bhaird, Olivia Fitzmaurice, Eabhnat Ní Fhloinn, and Ciarán O’Sullivan (2013). Student
non-engagement with mathematics learning supports, Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, 32
(4), 191-205, doi: 10.1093/teamat/hrt018.
Large numbers of students entering higher education take some level of mathematics as part of their degrees, and it is widely reported that a considerable minority of these students demonstrate a lack of the basic mathematical skills that they require to succeed. A common response has been the establishment of mathematics learning supports to give students the opportunity to reach the levels required. Research has shown that in general, although the supports appear to impact positively on students who avail of them, a significant number of students do not engage appropriately. This article presents preliminary findings from a national survey carried out at nine Higher Education Institutions in Ireland, focusing on the reasons given by students for their lack of engagement with the extra supports. It looks at the students’ mathematical backgrounds; the type of institution they attend, and discusses what these students reported would encourage them to avail of the supports.

Student perception of the impact of mathematics support in higher education

Ni Fhloinn, E., Fitzmaurice O., Bhaird, C. M., & O'Sullivan, C. (2014). Student perception of the impact of mathematics support in higher education. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 45 (7) 953-967., DOI:10.1080/0020739X.2014.892161
Mathematics support in higher education has become increasingly widespread over the past two decades, particularly in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Despite this, reliable evaluation of mathematics support continues to present challenges for those working in this area. One reason is because ideally, properly structured support should function as an integral part of the overall educational experience of the student, in tandem with lectures and tutorials. When this occurs, it makes it difficult to isolate the impact of mathematics support from these other entities. In this paper, the results of a large-scale nationwide survey conducted with first-year service mathematics students in nine higher education institutes in Ireland are considered, exploring studentsâ?? perceptions of the impact of mathematics support upon their retention, mathematical confidence, examination performance and overall ability to cope with the mathematical demands they face. Students were extremely positive about the effectiveness of mathematics support in all of these areas, providing valuable insights into the value of learning support in mathematics.

Success in engineering mathematics through mathematics support and changes to engineering maths lectures at Harper Adams

This article by Sarah Parsons (Harper Adams University College) describes the positive effects on examination results of introducing mathematics support and implementing other changes.
The article presents data which shows that significantly improved results followed from changes introduced in 2001 which included substantial mathematics support provision. However, because many other changes (changed content, separate lectures for some groups, diagnostic testing etc)
were introduced at the same time it is not possible to isolate particular effects of the mathematics support provision. Nevertheless external examiner comments reflect the value of mathematics support.
The article is published in MSOR Connections Feb 2005 Vol. 5 No.1.

Summer internships in sigma-sw

Matthew Taylor, Ollie Bond, Callum Anderson and Andrew Kennedy. (2012) Summer internships in sigma-sw. MSOR Connections 12(1), 23-27. DOI: 10.11120/msor.2012.12010023
We report on the experience of Loughborough University’s Eureka Centre for Mathematical Confidence in establishing a small pilot project to provide one-to-one mathematics support for neurodiverse students who attend other local universities and where no such provision is available. We outline the background to the scheme and report on the three students involved.

Supporting students making the transition from school to university– A national and local view of the maths skills crisis in the UK

The authors have first-hand experience of supporting students with weak maths skills making the transition from School to University within a Business School. In this paper the authors will summarise the key messages and recommendations to emerge from the literature in the light of their own experiences and research findings. We will also give an overview of the types of open source software that are currently available for maths skills support in the UK, and consider ways in which such on-line resources might be utilised in order to encourage and enhance students’ development of maths skills in a Business School context.
Cottee M., Relph A. and Robins, K. (2013) Supporting students making the transition from school to university– A national and local view of the maths skills crisis in the UK.
http://library.iated.org/view/COTTEE2013SUP

The extent of mathematics learning support in UK higher education—the 2012 survey

Glynis Perkin, Tony Croft and Duncan Lawson. (2013) The extent of mathematics learning support in UK higher education—the 2012 survey. Teaching Mathematics Applications, 32 (4), 165-172 doi:10.1093/teamat/hrt014.
Many higher education institutions have introduced some kind of mathematics learning support provision in response to the well-documented ‘mathematics problem’. In 2001 and 2004 two independent studies were undertaken to assess the number of universities offering mathematics learning support to students in addition to that provided through lectures, tutorials and the personal tutorial system. The results of these surveys showed a growth in the number of institutions providing support from 46 to 66. In this article we report on a survey carried out in 2012 to establish the current position regarding the provision of mathematics learning support in UK universities. In addition to determining the number of institutions providing mathematics learning support—there has been a further rise to 88—the article analyses the distribution of mathematics learning support by university mission group and by the type of support provided. The main findings are that the extent of mathematics learning support provision is largely independent of mission group and the dominant provision is drop-in support.

The impact of the mathematics support centre on the grades of first year students at the National University of Ireland Maynouth

(FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO ACCESS THIS LINK DIRECTLY.)
This paper, by Mac an Bhaird, Morgan & O'Shea, is an analysis of first year students' grades in the academic year 2007-2008. We compared the grades of students who attended the MSC and those who did not. To compare students of similar abilities, we split the groups (First Arts and First Science) up into smaller groups depending on their grades (Leaving Cert) at the end of second level. There was a significant difference in all sub groups. We then expanded by comparing the grades of students depending on the results of their proficiency tests. Again there was a significant difference. All students seems to benefit from support but this is particularly true for 'at-risk' students.
Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications (2009) 28,117-122 doi:10.1093/teamat/hrp014

To investigate the potential of emerging eLearning technologies to enhance online support for students of mathematics

A report by Brendan Cooney on a project is to investigate possible technologies that enable the transmission of mathematical content, conversations in mathematics, the posing of problems and transfer of solutions in an effective and efficient manner. The intention is to trial various technologies and then to implement the chosen technology for online delivery of mathematics support to RMIT students. (2013)

Towards a culture of data collection & analysis

The past decade or so has seen a huge growth in the number of mathematics
support centres within UK higher education institutions as they come to terms
with an increasing volume of students who are poorly prepared for the
mathematical demands of their chosen courses. In other parts of the world we
observe similar developments. In the early years many centres were short-lived
enterprises staffed either by concerned volunteers who found a few hours in the
week to offer additional support, or alternatively by part-time staff on short-term
contracts. More recently, we have observed a trend to more substantial support
centres many of which attract central funding and dedicated staff. Given this
trend there is a need to ask whether our efforts are worthwhile, how we might
know this, and whether we can justify ongoing funding. This talk by TONY CROFT from Loughborough University at the 3rd Irish Workshop on Mathematics Learning Support Centres, 2008, NUI Maynooth will describe
some of the challenges associated with acquiring data on effectiveness. Various
ways in which we can measure our success will be explored. Finally, several
exemplars will be provided of work being undertaken to capture the sort of
evidence required to secure continued funding of mathematics support centres.

Towards a culture of data collection & analysis

The past decade or so has seen a huge growth in the number of mathematics
support centres within UK higher education institutions as they come to terms
with an increasing volume of students who are poorly prepared for the
mathematical demands of their chosen courses. In other parts of the world we
observe similar developments. In the early years many centres were short-lived
enterprises staffed either by concerned volunteers who found a few hours in the
week to offer additional support, or alternatively by part-time staff on short-term
contracts. More recently, we have observed a trend to more substantial support
centres many of which attract central funding and dedicated staff. Given this
trend there is a need to ask whether our efforts are worthwhile, how we might
know this, and whether we can justify ongoing funding. This talk by TONY CROFT of Loughborough University at Queensland University of Technology, 2009, will describe
some of the challenges associated with acquiring data on effectiveness. Various
ways in which we can measure our success will be explored. Finally, several
exemplars will be provided of work being undertaken to capture the sort of
evidence required to secure continued funding of mathematics support centres.

Transition difficulties from FE to HE – What is the situation and what can we do about it?

Cheryl Voake, Lisa Taylor and Rob Wilson. (2013) Transition difficulties from FE to HE – What is the situation and what can we do about it? MSOR Connections, Volume 13, Issue 2: 6-14. DOI: 10.11120/msor.2013.00014
A common complaint from staff in Higher Education (HE) is that students arrive from Further Education (FE) providers with a lack of awareness of what to expect at university. This is manifested by an unpreparedness and, in some cases, an unwillingness for autonomous learning and self-responsibility.
This study was designed to assess student awareness and preparedness for HE, with a particular focus on Mathematics. This was achieved via FE student and teacher questionnaires and a focus group, which crucially allowed judgement between students’ perceived awareness and their actual awareness. The focus group also gave FE students an opportunity to quiz HE students on their experiences and opinions, and gave the HE students the opportunity to provide information they felt was missing from their own transition to university.

University students - perspectives on diagnostic testing in mathematics

Ni fhloinn, E., Bhaird, C. M., & Nolan, B. (2014). University students' perspectives on diagnostic testing in mathematics. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 45 (1), 58-74. DOI:10.1080/0020739X.2013.790508
Many universities issue mathematical diagnostic tests to incoming first-year students, covering a range of the basic concepts with which they should be comfortable from secondary school. As far as many lecturers are concerned, the purpose of this test is to determine the students' mathematical knowledge on entry. It should also provide an early indication of which students are likely to need additional help, and hopefully encourage such students to avail of extra support mechanisms at an early stage. However, it is not clear that students recognize these intentions and there is a fear that students who score poorly in the test will have their confidence further damaged in relation to mathematics and will be reluctant to seek help. To this end, a questionnaire was developed to explore studentsÃ¢?? perspectives on diagnostic testing. Analysis of responses received to the questionnaire provided an interesting insight into studentsÃ¢?? perspectives including the optimum time to conduct such a test, their views on the aims of diagnostic testing, whether they feel that testing is a good idea, and their attitudes to the support systems put in place to help those who scored poorly in the test.

Widening Participation in subjects requiring data handling skills: the MathsAid Project

FOR COPYRIGHT REASONS DIRECT ACCESS TO THIS PAPER MAY BE UNAVAILABLE. MathsAid is a university-wide maths support service offering one-to-one tutorial support and more.
This paper by Atkins, May and Marks-Maran (Kingston University, UK) discusses the initiative and provides information about its evaluation by questionnaire, usage data and interviews with students.
The paper is published in the Journal of Further and Higher Education, Vol. 29. No. 4 (2005) pp 353-365. DOI:10.1080/03098770500353607