Now showing 1 - 10 of 10
  • Publication
    Maths Sparks: Promoting student engagement and developing skills in presentation, communication and team-work
    (UCD Access & Lifelong Learning, 2017-09-06) ;
    Two prominent concerns of mathematics education at third level are: improving the engagement of undergraduate students who have chosen to study mathematics and developing these students’ communication skills. Maths Sparks: Problem Solving Workshops is a mathematics enrichment programme where workshops are designed by undergraduate students and presented to post-primary pupils. This programme is run by the UCD School of Mathematics & Statistics and is funded and supported by Science Foundation Ireland and UCD Access & Lifelong Learning. Undergraduate students apply to volunteer in the programme, which is run over the course of one semester, with the opportunity to develop their skills of designing a mathematics workshop, working in a team, facilitating mathematical learning, presenting to a large audience and communicating their knowledge of mathematics. Each two-hour workshop is designed by a group of two to three students, under the guidance of academic staff in the UCD School of Mathematics & Statistics, and is presented as part of a series of workshops to senior post-primary pupils.
  • Publication
    Maths Sparks Problem Solving Workshops. Vols. 2 and 3
    Maths Sparks is a series of workshops for senior-cycle post-primary students, designed and run by volunteer undergraduate students and academic staff of the UCD School of Mathematics & Statistics. The workshops were created to encourage more young people to consider pursuing mathematics and mathematics-based courses at third level, through demonstration of the applications of mathematics outside of the Irish post-primary school curriculum. Through interactive workshops, based on sense-making and students’ articulation of their mathematical thinking, these workshops can provide students with an opportunity to explore topics within the broad subject of mathematics and potentially impact their attitudes towards and self-confidence in mathematics.
  • Publication
    Maths Sparks: Developing Community and Widening Participation
    Improving the engagement of university students in wider issues of teaching and learning is now an important driver in higher education. Additionally, widening the participation of those who access higher education is a matter of increasing prominence. In this paper we report on a case study initiative addressing both of these issues in a university mathematics department. Staff and university students collaborated in developing a series of mathematics workshops, called Maths Sparks, for secondary school pupils from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. We report on the development of student-staff community as a result of establishing this programme and discuss the increased engagement and motivation of both university students and secondary pupils participating in the series of activity-based workshops.
  • Publication
    Engaging Business Students in Quantitative Skills Development
    (Australian Business Education Research Association, 2015-06) ;
    In this paper the complex problems of developing quantitative and analytical skills in undergraduate first year, first semester business students are addressed. An action research project detailing how first year business students perceive the relevance of data analysis and inferential statistics in light of the economic downturn and the challenges society faces is discussed. Students¿ attitudes were evaluated via an online survey consisting of both quantitative and qualitative responses. While two thirds of respondents do acknowledge the relevance of such a course for future business roles, it is shown that more work must be done to distinguish between why data analysis is relevant and how data analysis is performed. Also discussed are findings related to student learning, their intellectual development, and their motivation and expectations upon enrolling on the Data Analysis for Decision Makers (DADM) module. The challenges in teaching such a mandatory module to Business students are discussed and a pedagogical framework for promoting deeper student engagement through active learning, regular continuous assessment and technology are also examined.
  • Publication
    Evaluating the impact of mathematics support using moderation
    (Institute of Education, Dublin City University, 2021-10-16) ; ; ;
    Mathematics and Statistics Support has existed formally within Irish higher education for twenty years. Evaluations of the effectiveness of engaging with such student support suggest improvements in students’ grades, confidence, retention, progression, completion and employability, among other factors. Distinguishing student success due to mathematics support engagement from students’ other practices and use of academic resources such as lectures, tutorials, peer support and online materials is difficult. In this paper we present findings from a quantitative and longitudinal analysis of visitors and non-visitors of the UCD mathematics support centre over six years. We employed a technique from social psychology research literature known as moderation to address two research questions relating to the university mathematics module grades of students who use, and do not use the institution’s mathematics support centre. Moderation analysis revealed that visiting the centre more often has a significant impact on the relationship between Leaving Certificate mathematics grades and university mathematics grades. Findings indicated that using mathematics support bridges the gap between lower and higher achieving Leaving Certificate mathematics students in terms of their university mathematics results.
  • Publication
    Supporting lecturers to monitor their students’ learning and develop their practice through engaging with mathematics support centre feedback
    (Western Sydney University. School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics, 2019-11-29)
    This paper analyses the engagement of lecturers of mathematics or mathematics-related subjects, with the feedback from their students’ visits to a university mathematics support centre, as interpreted by the attending support tutor(s). This engagement is analysed in two ways. Firstly, via 43 lecturer responses to two end-of-semester electronic surveys conducted one year apart and secondly via analysis of reflective journals kept by lecturers the following year. This latter study, conducted with nine lecturers, involved them writing down their thoughts immediately upon reading the weekly email of mathematics support centre feedback relating to their module. We analyse these reflections and categorise them into three themes namely, reflection for action, knowledge of content and students, and student engagement. The results suggest that the feedback received from the centre influenced lecturers’ teaching practice in terms of content delivery and on placing further emphasis and time on important concepts. This study offers a route to leveraging the feedback collected at a mathematics support centre on student learning in order to close the feedback loop.
  • Publication
    Maths Sparks engagement programme: investigating the impact on under-privileged pupils’ attitudes towards mathematics
    In this paper we explore the attitudes of under-privileged secondary school pupils in Ireland towards mathematics and investigate the impact of attending a 4-week engagement programme on these attitudes. The pupils involved in this research attended schools recognized by the Department of Education & Skills as socio-economically deprived. Pupils attending these schools, known as Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS), are 40% less likely than their counterparts in non-DEIS schools to pursue mathematics at a higher level in state examinations (Smyth, E., Mccoy, S. & Kingston, G., 2015, Learning From the Evaluation of DEIS. Dublin: Economic and Social Research Institute). However, little research has reported on these pupils’ experiences of and attitudes towards mathematics at senior secondary level. An engagement programme entitled ‘Maths Sparks’ was purposefully designed for secondary pupils from DEIS schools, with the aim of positively influencing their attitudes towards and confidence in mathematics. The programme consisted of weekly out-of-school workshops exploring extra-curricular mathematics topics, designed and delivered by undergraduate mathematics students. Questionnaires were utilized to evaluate pupils’ attitudes towards mathematics before and after their participation in the programme. Despite its relatively short time frame, qualitative and quantitative analysis suggests an increase in participating pupils’ attitudes towards, enjoyment of and self-confidence in mathematics due to their participation in the programme. Findings also suggest that while these pupils liked the subject of mathematics, their experience of learning the subject in school was not always positive and was sometimes hindered by the absence of higher-level mathematics as an option in school. The high-stakes examination content and teachers’ beliefs in the ability of their students also sometimes negatively impacted learners’ intentions to pursue mathematics at a higher level. Findings suggest that longitudinal mathematics engagement programmes, which focus on problem solving, involve extra-curricular mathematical concepts and are presented by undergraduate mathematics students, may provide a valuable way of positively impacting pupils’ intentions to pursue the subject.
      116Scopus© Citations 4
  • Publication
    Maths Sparks: Investigating the impact of outreach on pupils' attitudes towards mathematics
    In this article, we examine the impact of participating in a series of mathematics workshops on secondary-school pupils' attitudes towards mathematics. A six-week program, entitled 'Maths Sparks', was run by a team of lecturers and students at a research-intensive university in the Republic of Ireland. The outreach series aimed to promote mathematics to pupils from schools designated as socio-economically disadvantaged (DEIS - Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), who are less likely to study mathematics at higher level than their non-DEIS counterparts (Smyth et al. 2015). Sixty-two pupils participated in the research and data was generated through pre-post questionnaires based on the Fennema-Sherman (1976) framework of Attitudes to Mathematics. Findings suggest that while male students initially had more positive attitudes towards mathematics, there was a narrowing in this gender gap across several factors on the Fennema-Sherman scale as a result of participation in the programme. The most prominent of these features were: 'Attitudes towards success in mathematics' and 'Motivation towards mathematics'. Findings suggest that the construct and delivery of this Mathematics outreach programme, involving undergraduate students and academic staff, may provide a useful structure in benefitting pupils' attitudes towards mathematics and encouraging their study of the subject.
  • Publication
    The Diagonalizable Nonnegative Inverse Eigenvalue Problem
    (De Gruyter, 2018-07-27) ;
    In this article we provide some lists of real numbers which can be realized as the spectra of nonnegative diagonalizable matrices but which are not the spectra of nonnegative symmetric matrices. In particular, we examine the classical list σ = (3 + t, 3 − t, −2, −2, −2) with t ≥ 0, and show that 0 is realizable by a nonnegative diagonalizable matrix only for t ≥ 1. We also provide examples of lists which are realizable as the spectra of nonnegative matrices, but not as the spectra of nonnegative diagonalizable matrices by examining the Jordan Normal Form.
      432Scopus© Citations 8
  • Publication
    Universal Design for Curriculum Design Case Studies from University College Dublin
    What do students say they want from university teaching and learning? We must always ensure that the student voice is central in the development of educational practices. The feedback above came from students linked with UCD Access & Lifelong Learning who were asked simple open questions about their experiences in an anonymous online survey. We asked only: what helped and what was difficult? These students overwhelmingly asked for more clarity, more flexibility and more feedback. Universal Design offers an approach which ensures the clarity, flexibility and feedback sought by students.