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Comparing models of first year mathematics transition and support Findings from the First Year in Maths (FYiMaths) project.

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Presentation on theme: "Comparing models of first year mathematics transition and support Findings from the First Year in Maths (FYiMaths) project."— Presentation transcript:

1 Comparing models of first year mathematics transition and support Findings from the First Year in Maths (FYiMaths) project

2 First Year in Maths Project ‘Building leadership capacity in university first year learning and teaching in mathematical sciences’ An Office of Learning and Teaching funded project (2012- 2014) looking at the roles and responsibilities of academics coordinating first year mathematics programs. Our aims are to:  Define a role (or roles),  Raise their profile,  Articulate the value of these positions,  Describe first year culture,  Create a useful and thriving network.

3 Activities  In-depth interviews with 39 academics who teach first year mathematics at 25 universities in Australia and New Zealand.  Two workshops (Melbourne, June 2013 &2014) that provided a space for people to meet and exchange ideas and identified their key concerns and challenges.  A national forum ( Sydney, Feb 2014) attended by 145 academics, educators and representatives from all the STEM disciplines. It focused on the impact of assumed knowledge entry requirements on STEM disciplines.

4 Outcomes  We have identified a wide range of roles that involve coordination responsibilities, but there are not many defined FY mathematics coordinators. Most combined FY responsibilities with other roles.  The network has become a stakeholder in the debate over mathematics and science education and raised the profile of the challenges in teaching first year mathematics.  The role of first year coordinator in mathematics:  Can encompass a wide range of responsibilities,  Often involves many personal challenges in balancing workload and expectations,  Meet the needs of diverse student cohort in terms of support, curriculum design, administration and teaching.  Develop adaptive responses to student diversity by creating new teaching, assessment and support mechanisms and services. /fyimaths #fyimathsworkshop

5 Issues in FY maths First year mathematics is taught as part of many degree programs including science, engineering, business, health science and education. Key issues in first year mathematics are:  Enrolments in first year mathematics are typically large meaning large lecture style classes.  Entry requirements to degree programs vary, with many requiring ‘assumed knowledge’ rather than specific pre-requisite subjects. Students in FY maths subjects often have diverse backgrounds.  Many students do not have required mathematics background meaning many struggle to succeed and failure rates are high.  Students may be resistant to studying mathematics because they are required to do it, and will often be disengaged.

6 FY transition support in maths Mathematics departments have developed a range of responses to address these issues:  Multiple levels and discipline focused mathematics subjects.  Diagnostic testing prior to commencing Semester 1.  Bridging programs – prior to or in Semester 1.  Maths support centers  Catering specifically to mathematics students and managed by the maths department and staffed by academics with support from later year students.  University centralised maths support for all students.  Walk in help, additional subject specific tutorials.  Online resources  Online lectures, links to external resources, video recorded consultations.  First year coordinators!

7 Case studies 1.University A  A city university with one main campus. 2.University B  A regional university. 3.University C  A suburban university with some off shore teaching.

8 Case study 1. University A  First Year support  Centralised maths support: provides drop-in centre, online resources, bridging course.  Maths department provides additional drop-in assignment help for first year students.  First Year coordinator  Established role coordinating large mathematics program in first year servicing a range of degree programs.  Directs online assessment.  Very high administrative and managerial workload. Deadlines daily.  Aspects of job very stressful – dealing with problems that affect 1000+ students, individual student demands/special circumstances.  Passionate about quality assurance, improving processes.  No real career progression possible from the position, makes it unattractive to others.  Enjoys teaching but not research active.

9 Case study 2. University B  First Year support  Centralised maths support through university academic skills centre, offers consultations and tailored group support.  Bridging program and catch up subjects offered in semester break.  Online resources used.  First Year coordinator  New role, still undefined and still unclear on title and key responsibilities and no professional development in management.  Managing change to assessment and course structure which is time consuming and often feels overwhelmed.  Often first point of contact for students with personal problems and requires time in referring and addressing subject specific issues.  Very difficult to do disciplinary research.

10 Case study 3. University C  First Year support  Online diagnostic quiz at enrolment is a tool to assist students in preparing for maths content in many subjects.  Centralised maths support works closely with maths staff and provides extra classes for mathematics and statistics.  Online maths resources, podcasts and help sheets.  Undergraduate coordinator  Management role representing the discipline involves negotiating with other departments.  Very high administrative and management workload with pressure from senior management.  Staff management and teaching allocation.  Advising students on appropriate course for their background.  Works closely with team of subject coordinators in managing first year.  Difficult to continue discipline research and wants to leave the position to do more research.

11 Network The project has identified the need for a network and we are working on what this might involve:  Annual event  Website  Members contact details  Resources and case studies  Research activities and events.  Advocacy and support for FY maths coordinators  Stakeholder in national issues, such as high school mathematics entry requirements.  Collecting and disseminating examples of practice, research and promoting collaboration.

12 Discussion Points 1.First Year Coordinators may face serious difficulties in meeting the expectations of their superiors, colleagues and students. How can we support these people by raising the profile of their role? 2.First Year Coordinators may be isolated due to workload, geography, departmental or school structures. How can a network provide supportive and useful activities and resources for these people? 3.First Year Coordinators exist in many disciplines as a means to addressing the challenges of managing large, diverse student cohorts. How can we inform the development of the role to improve the transition of students in their first year?

13 Dr Deborah King The University of Melbourne Ms Joann Cattlin The University of Melbourne Prof. Jo Ward Curtin University Dr Adrian KoerberThe University of Adelaide A. Prof. Leon PoladianThe University of Sydney Project Team

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