Specialist and more-able mathematics students: understanding their engagement with mathematics support

Michael Grove, Sophie Guiry, Tony Croft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Along with a growing body of evidence of the challenges experienced by specialist and more-able mathematics students during their undergraduate studies, there now exists evidence that these students are increasingly accessing mathematics support centres as a means of enhancing their mathematical learning experience. Here we report on a survey of 47 specialist mathematics students, studying within the mathematics department of a large, UK research-intensive university. Our findings show that whilst such students have high levels of engagement with core teaching components, additional, and optional, opportunities for personalised support and dialogue provided by the mathematics department to support their studies are less well used and valued. Friends provide an important source of additional support along with visits to the mathematics support centre. Our data show that users of mathematics support from later years are not necessarily returners, but instead are new to the centre. Whilst many students use the centre only occasionally and as the need arises, there is evidence that others are more regular users and are using the centre as a core part of their mathematical learning experience. The reasons given for their usage are linked to the convenient availability of support, its personalised nature with friendly tutors of a similar-age and subject profile, the ability to use the centre as a group study space to work with friends, and as an opportunity to engage in dialogue about their mathematical learning.

Keywords

  • Mathematics support
  • dialogue
  • postgraduate tutors
  • peer support

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