Presentation on theme: "An analysis of at-risk students’ lack of engagement with mathematics support A case study of first year students at the National University of Ireland."— Presentation transcript:
An analysis of at-risk students’ lack of engagement with mathematics support A case study of first year students at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. Martin Grehan
Motivation for this study A previous statistical analysis showed that students who engaged with support were more likely to succeed than those who did not. A large proportion of 'at-risk' students did not avail of mathematics support. Aimed to discover real reasons for students not engaging. Contacted all 39 repeating 1 st year students. 13 responses, 10 completed questionnaires and 7 interviewed.
Supports Offered Lectures Weekly tutorials Weekly assignments Maths Support Centre (MSC) Drop in centre: 07-08: 273 registered, 2493 visits 08-09: 509 registered, 4647 visits 09-10: 570 registered, 5475 visits so far Note: c.5800 undergrads (08/09) of which 950 studied maths.
Interviews Semi-Structured Sections: Experience of maths, pre-university and 1 st year of college. Lectures Tutorials Assignments MSC General/Summary
Grounded Theory Developed by Glaser & Strauss, both sociologists. Data collection ahead of a hypothesis. Method: Codes/Notes Concepts Categories Theory
Preliminary Findings Completed codes/notes and concepts phase. Several themes beginning to emerge including: Fear Lack of understanding/awareness Lack of motivation/discipline
Example of constructing a “Category” Fear of failure Fear of showing lack of knowledge/ability Fear of being singled out Fear of the unknown “FEAR”
Breakdown of “Fear” category: Fear of failure This manifests itself mainly as a fear of facing your own shortcomings and a fear of your own emotional reactions to failure. “Cause if it’s handed back and I see an F beside it and I didn’t wanna see that F” (student FFF1 discussing assignments) “I think I was kind of hoping for some miracle, I dunno, em, I just kind of pushed it to the side, and I kinda enjoyed the other subjects. I just did them” (student FFF2 discussing maths in general) Found them difficult and they'd just kind of run you down about the subject as well cause you were feeling, you were (not) getting marks from them, you were just doing poorly. Em, and coming up to exams and stuff like that it didn't feel great. (student MSF2 discussing assignments)
Fear of showing lack of knowledge or ability This shows up as embarrassment and a reluctance to ask questions or fear of being wrong (see Ryan, Pintrich and Midgley 2001). When asked by the interviewer would they ask a question in lectures, student FFF1 responded: “Never! I did in one, in accounting, but that’s because I was comfortable with it and I knew what I was talking about and I corrected the lecturer and I asked a question. So, I was comfortable with that.” “I was actually really embarrassed and intimidated about going and saying listen guys I struggle horribly with maths.” (student MSF1 discussing the MSC) Cause I wasn't going to lectures, when I was doing my homework I didn't have a clue so I was just like “I cant go to a tutorial cause I wont know how to do....”, you know that sort of way? (student FFF2)
Fear of being singled out Many of the students seemed to want to stay out of the limelight at all costs. You know that they ask you questions and you’re like “I haven’t a clue” and everyone is looking at you and like “Why don’t you know?”. (student FFF1 commenting on tutorials “If you hand in a bad homework the lecturer (tutor) can focus a lot more on you and you know it will make you feel, not stupid but if you hand in a bad homework, this is me personally, I'd be less inclined to go to the tutorial.” (student MSF3 commenting on tutorials) “I mean in such large groups it's hard to ask questions cause there's just so many people around. … It's just, it can be, I mean you don’t want to say something stupid in front of 200, 250 people.” (student MSF2 commenting on lectures)
Fear of the unknown Students are unsure and unaware of many of the supports available to them. Then second semester I went to the door, looked in and it was really, really busy and I just thought “hmmm, no!”. And I turned around. (student FFF1 on the MSC) “You know, kinda nervous to go off somewhere you didn't understand…And you just kind of felt embarrassed about not knowing how everything was working.” (student MSF2 on the MSC) “I think it’s the initial, once you go the first time its gra(nd) …it’s going the first time I’d say.” (student FFF2 on the MSC)
The Future Already intervening as a result of preliminary findings. Finish developing theory/theories from interviews already done. Currently interviewing students who did avail of maths support. Compare and contrast.