Teacher survey

Transmaths: Institutions - Into University

Universities at an institutional level recognise the problems of mathematics in transition for their newly arriving undergraduates. In response to perceived needs a number of different transitional practices, systems and structures are used, for example, extra classes or smaller lectures, small group work or tuition, workshops, support centres and online materials, employment of expert A-level teachers etc. The success of such interventions can be variable and does not always engage all students who would benefit.

Programme design involving curriculum and pedagogy for mathematics, for different cohorts and mathematically demanding subjects, is complex and makes substantial demands on pedagogical and educational expertise. Lecturers/teachers need to understand this design and to be engaged with a pedagogic culture that prioritises learning issues and which includes cycles of evaluation/reflection and action. Important in this regard is understanding that mathematics learning needs to be considered not only in courses designated as 'mathematics' but also in subjects that use mathematics, for example, in engineering and science modules. This presents a problem of 'transfer' for students and it cannot be assumed this is straightforward: attention needs to be directed to issues of teaching and learning of mathematics within these modules in addition to within mathematics modules.

While there have been drives to develop a more connected pedagogic culture in Higher Education, our research suggests that there has been a reluctance to adopt a more connected pedagogy in the cases we investigated. In relation to developing strong mathematical thinking and deeper mathematical understanding, a dominance of transmissionist practices amid the pedagogic culture proves a serious barrier for many students with regard to their learning and using mathematics.