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Student experiences in STEM… where did all the math come from? A.James, Y. Li, M. Wald & E.A. Draffan, ECS Partners, University of Southampton

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You and maths….

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How maths confident are you? Up to Level 2 / GCSE

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How maths confident are you? Up to A Level / Higher

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Why are we concerned about maths and STEM?

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University experience of maths

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Print disabilities and mathematical notation Up to 10% of student population may have a print impairment that could affect their ability to read or comprehend maths. Problems may include: –Reading the notation –Recalling names of notation and meanings –Proof reading notation –Recalling the steps of a process to solve a maths problem –Difficulty with comprehending symbols instead of words Access to text to speech with highlighting may improve access to maths notation.

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When they get to university…do students expect maths? Biology Business Economics

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Some students might anticipate maths content… Chemistry Engineering

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Students that want to do maths….

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Proportion of disabled students in UK HEIs by subject area, 2012/13

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Where does “maths” occur? Websites Publications (PDF) and e-books Documents, presentations and spreadsheets Learning materials Videos

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Accessibility Requirements Some users may want to –Zoom / re-size –Search / index maths –Braille rendering –Read aloud maths with or without highlighting Reading aloud maths is particularly demanding on working memory. It may not be possible to vocalise diagrams.

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The difference between maths & text

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Symbols may be vocalised differently: [AB] -1 Could mean: “left bracket, boldface capital a, boldface capital b, right bracket, superscript minus one” OR “inverse of the matrix product, boldface capital a, boldface capital b”

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Hand writing recognition & maths Hand-written maths relies on real-time analysis of strokes as symbols are formed –Much more dependent on accuracy & spatial layout than text recognition –Formation of symbols is not consistent Across countries Across individuals Math input panel in Windows (and MathType)

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Apps for capturing maths Starting to appear on tablet apps e.g. MathBrush but not necessarily about producing accessible output Notes & Maths MathBrush for recongitzing hand-writing But can also type TeX into a notes app & import to word / editor later

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Accessibility barriers to maths notation

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The difference between maths & text: non- linear representation and ambiguity (1)

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The difference between maths & text: non- linear representation and ambiguity (2)

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Accurate reading of maths:

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Mathematical semantics

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Visualising maths notation Concepts maps & tree diagrams are often used to assist mathematical teaching [3]. Tree diagrams are used to describe semantics Specialist maths tutors have described how concept maps can be used to help dyslexic students visualise problems [6, 8].

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STEMReader project Project to develop proof of concept from Feb 2014 – July 2014 funded by BIS, Technology Strategy Board, managed by Techdis. Goals: Improve solutions for reading aloud maths notation for students studying GCSE to degree level maths and science Apply concept of semantic web to allow for navigation and visualisation of maths notation Challenge – to develop usable, sustainable tool for print-impaired students to use alongside their current support strategies. Current proof of concept tool allows MathML equations to be read aloud, navigated by keyboard & display as a semantic tree. Will be able to be used with Office documents by selecting equations.

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STEMReader examples - fractions

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STEMReader examples – order of operations “Three plus two minus four squared” 2 different trees for the 2 different versions

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STEMReader – advanced example Navigate through an equation using the tree Highlight location of variables within the equation Provide users with different options for speaking equations Investigating different ways of displaying tree view Contact a.james@soton.ac.uk for further informationa.james@soton.ac.uk

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References [1] Bahram, S., Soiffer, N., & Frankel L. (2014) Understanding Mathematical Expressions through Interactive Navigation. In 29 th Annual International Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities, Northridge, California, USA.Understanding Mathematical Expressions through Interactive Navigation. [2] Bates, E., & Fitzpatrick, D. (2010). Spoken mathematics using prosody, earcons and spearcons. Computers Helping People with Special Needs, 407–414. [3] Brown, T. (2013). Meeting the Standards in Primary Mathematics: A Guide to the ITT NC. Routledge. [4] Gellenbeck, E., & Stefik, A. (2009). Evaluating Prosodic Cues as a Means to Disambiguate Algebraic Expressions: An Empirical Study, 139–146. [5] Holden, W., Sunnes, M., & Graffe, S. (2014) The Next Generation Text to Speech Program. In 29 th Annual International Conference on Technology and Persons with [6] Perkin, G. (2004). The dyslexic engineer–issues for mathematics education. International Conference on Engineering Education, (October 2003), 1–11. [7] Sorge, V., Chen, C., Raman, T. V., & Tseng, D. (2014, April). Towards making mathematics a first class citizen in general screen readers. In Proceedings of the 11th Web for All Conference (p. 40). ACM. [8] Trott, C. (2003). Mathematics support for dyslexic students. MSOR Connections, 3(4), 17- 20.

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