Supporting Engineering Students with Weak Maths Skills and Widening Participation
This conference looks at ways in which different models of support can be provided to students with weak maths skills on Engineering courses to help ensure that they can develop these skills; thereby building confidence in the subject matter and enabling students to succeed in their chosen programmes of study.
The profile of the types of students entering universities has changed considerably. Students now enter via Access courses; enter from vocational courses, i.e. BTEC’s, which have mainly course-based assessment; are mature students studying on a part-time basis; or are international students. All alongside the traditional ‘A’ level student. This makes for a very mixed cohort entering the HE Sector. The change in the profile of the students has had a huge impact on the delivery of the courses. Where previously students were generally succeeding, now there is a larger problem of progression and retention. Many of the current students, for different reasons, are not sufficiently prepared in key basic areas to cope effectively with university-level material. A very important component required in all engineering fields is a good understanding of key basic mathematical concepts. What is being found on engineering courses is that there is a large number of students finding the mathematics modules difficult in the first year and, as a result, there are many failures in these modules. This has a problem for progression, retention and also for the more challenging advanced mathematics courses required in the subsequent years. Clearly, these students then also tend to struggle to cope with the other analytical parts of the engineering courses and are therefore potentially do not progress.
This conference looks at ways in which different models of support can be provided to students with weak maths skills to help ensure that they can develop these skills; thereby building confidence in the subject matter and enabling students to succeed in their chosen programmes of study. This will be an opportunity to exchange knowledge and share good practice across the HE Sector amongst lecturers in engineering programmes and for those academic staff supporting the development of mathematics skills.
A plenary session at the end is planned and this will allow for all participants to contribute to the discussion and explore opportunities for future collaborative work.