The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
Issue: student well-being and anxiety. Accessibility of tutorial type resources.
Many students experiencing problems with abstract mathematics either already experience maths anxiety or develop it. They can also lack self-efficacy and mathematical resilience.
Textbooks and module materials invariably demonstrate `correct’ mathematics, often showing an imaginary student’s thoughts at each stage. These ‘correct’ thoughts are usually not what the real student is thinking and so exacerbate anxiety issues and feelings of isolation. Distance education students rarely see others struggling mathematically; they see tutors, text or screencasts showing perfect mathematics flowing easily, even though in reality ‘first versions’ of mathematics are often messy and incorrect. On M303, the module team currently produce planned online sessions (podcasts) presented in an informal, conversational style with the goal of raising mathematical resilience and self-efficacy and increasing student wellbeing. Our sessions use existing hardware that enable us to write maths live, in real time, thus demonstrating how maths appears before writing up. A conversational, informal style helps transfer affective learning objectives (it is okay to make mistakes in mathematics and all mathematicians do it). These sessions are popular with M303 students.
With this project, we intend to:
Evaluation would be via mixed methods (a questionnaire covering resilience, anxiety and wellbeing completed both before and after sessions are viewed, together with semi-structured interviews with students (selected using the questionnaire data).