Implementing a maths support system for first-year engineering students

Jonathan Cole, Timothy Crawford, Shaheer Zubairi

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    The first-semester mathematics course, Engineering Mathematics 1, for first-year aerospace and mechanical engineering students revises fundamental topics, most of which are on the A-level syllabus. While students with A-level grade B or C tend to achieve marks over a wide range in this course, it has been particularly noticeable that students with alternative entry qualifications (such as National Diplomas) struggle greatly. This is of concern given the high level of mathematical content in other first-year modules. The University’s Learning Development Service (LDS) offers academic support on various topics including maths, writing and study skills. Students can avail of one-to-one appointments (including via Skype) or workshops but it is usually left to students to take the initiative in contacting the Service. In 2011/12, a weekly, one-hour session of maths support was arranged, with input from the LDS, for students without A-level maths who were enrolled on Engineering Mathematics 1 to assist their progress. Two groups containing four aerospace and four mechanical students were organised. The students worked through practice questions and had opportunity to discuss mathematical problems from other modules. Student attendance averaged 56% but varied greatly – three students each attended only one of the ten sessions, three came to at least nine sessions. Module results also showed much variation and no correlation with attendance at the support classes is apparent. Provision of maths support should continue, probably more time should be allocated, an informal atmosphere with much one-to-one help is necessary and students with common backgrounds should be grouped together.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012
    Event4th International Symposium for Engineering Education, 2012 - Sheffield, United Kingdom
    Duration: 19 Jul 201220 Jul 2012
    Conference number: 4


    Conference4th International Symposium for Engineering Education, 2012
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

    Bibliographical note

    4th International Symposium for Engineering Education, 2012, The University of Sheffield, July 2012, UK


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