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Professor Tony Croft Director, Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University Mathematics Support Centres The benefits for.

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Presentation on theme: "Professor Tony Croft Director, Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University Mathematics Support Centres The benefits for."— Presentation transcript:

1 Professor Tony Croft Director, Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University Mathematics Support Centres The benefits for students, teachers and institutions

2 Loughborough & the University Established as a technical institute in 1909. 1966 awarded its charter as Loughborough University of Technology 1996 renamed Loughborough University Today – one of the best Universities in the UK



5 A centre for excellence in university wide mathematics and statistics support

6 Overview  What are mathematics support centres ?  What goes on in them ?  Why do we have them ?  What are the benefits of having them  Measuring success

7 What are mathematics support centres ?  resources, facilities, services offered to students in addition to that traditionally provided in a university

8 What are mathematics support centres ?  open-access drop-in help where students can ask for one-to- one help with experienced tutors in a friendly, non- judgemental and supportive environment  Paper-based and computer-based resources  Timetabled workshops on specific topics known to cause difficulties  Diagnostic testing and follow-up support  Learning spaces with access to textbooks, etc  Refresher or revision programmes (e.g. prior to the start of term)  Support for students who have additional learning needs (e.g. dyslexia)

9 What are mathematics support centres ?

10 Continuing growth in UK activity Surveys: Demand: When sigma announced a competition for funding to develop new or existing centres, 14 high quality bids were received. Sigma has now helped to establish new centres at Beveridge199342 Lawson et al200146 Perkin & Croft200466 Bath Sheffield

11 Around the world Australia: there are 39 universities, of which 32 have some form of Mathematics & Statistics Learning Support. (Helen MacGillivray, QUT, 2008) Ireland: 13 institutions with mathematics support provision are reported in the audit of Gill Donoghue & Johnson (CEMTL 2008)

12 Around the world Switzerland’s first….. Opened September 2008

13 The Loughborough Centre  video

14 Why do we have mathematics support centres ?  Widespread concerns about maths standards in schools impacting upon higher education  Plethora of government reports about the challenges  Need to increase the numbers studying STEM subjects

15 The benefits for students  Enables students to build confidence  Eases transition to HE  Improves retention  Improves marks  Greater satisfaction

16 Robinson

17 Bamforth et al (2007)



20 Dowling & Nolan (DCU)  Published in CETL MSOR 2006 Conference Proceedings  Effectiveness of the Maths Learning Centre measured by usage statistics, feedback including interviews.  Model: pass rates of “at risk” students who did / did not visit the centre were compared over two years. 2004/52005/6 Number at risk80161 Number at risk who visited MLSC 4195 Pass rate at risk who visited 53%60% Pass rate at risk who did not visit 25%49%



23 Pell & Croft  Anecdotally: Some of the students most in need of support fail to access it at all. Many of those who make good use of the centres would pass anyway.  Analysed five first year engineering maths modules in 2004-5. 644 students.  Data obtained on their module grade, number of visits to the centre. No access to entry grades.

24 Pell & Croft  21 students attended >=2 and achieved grade D  63 out of 74 failing students did not attend more than once

25 Pell & Croft  35% of those achieving A* sought maths help more than once  15% of E Grade Students and 15% of F Grade students sought help more than once  fail grade students, in addition to having ability problems have attitudinal problems

26 Maths support can transform people’s lives ….  I just wanted to share my good news that after five years of study at Loughborough I managed to gain a first class honours in Product Design and Manufacture. I believe that without the hours you dedicated to the maths learning support centre I would not have been able to pass the maths modules on my foundation year and first year. Your support, patience and encouragement were invaluable when it came to a subject that I had little confidence in when I first arrived at Loughborough. Kathryn

27 Maths support can transform people’s lives ….  Video clip

28 The benefits for staff  An efficient way of coping with struggling students  Excellent professional development  Improved module marks  Improved pass rates  Fewer complaints  A defence against complaints

29 The benefits for institutions

30 External Review  The Institutional Audit report of 2004 records:  “The audit team identified the following areas as being good practice in the context of the University: the work of the Mathematics Education Centre...”  “Having discussed the work of the MEC with members of staff across the University, the team came to the view that [its] contributions to the University's resources for staff development, and their work more generally, constituted a feature of good practice.”  loughborough2004/Rg063loughboroughUni.pdf loughborough2004/Rg063loughboroughUni.pdf The Institutional Audit report of 2008 records: sigma CETL has its origins in the Mathematics Education Centre but has widened its concern from the teaching of mathematics to engineers to include support for mathematics education across the University. The ready accessibility of useful help was praised by both undergraduate and postgraduate students that met the audit team. Other students described the benefits of the support rooms and associated equipment. Postgraduate students were appreciative of the one- to-one help and individual study programmes provided for them by the Centre.

31 NSS  National Student Survey 2008  Comments relating to “maths support”  Department: Mathematical Sciences: 2 positive comments referring to MLSC (unspecified)  Department: Economics Two positive comments citing “excellent maths support” (one) and “superb support in the form of the maths support centre” (one)  Department: Electronic and Electrical Eng: One positive comment: “the uni is more than equipped to help and bring me up to speed with my maths skills that I may have previously missed or forgotten”.

32 National Audit Office 2007….  Staying the course: the retention of students in higher education.  “A university’s approach to retention should be a positive one and it should provide students with opportunities to improve their grades rather than just addressing gaps in their knowledge”  The data from Pell would suggest the support centres are already doing this rather well!

33 Measuring efficacy

34 Measures of success – soft measures  Growth in the number of centres  Usage Data – attendance records, return visits, year of study, department, problem  Student Feedback Questionnaires – biased and usually positive  Module Feedback Questionnaires – reach a broader group of students, but often little is said about maths support.  External Review

35 Usage Data  Student visits

36 Usage Data  Students  Visits  Departments

37 Finally  For those interested in developing their own provision, large or small scale, free help is at hand: 

38  Thank you


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