From pre-induction to graduation: Supporting non-traditional learners in maths and academic skills

This was the abstract of a paper my colleague and I presented at the University of Salford earlier this year.
Caroline Corley and Rukhsana Din
University of Huddersfield, UK
In recent years there have been concerns regarding the level of maths of undergraduates commencing STEM degrees. Students entering HE struggle with first year maths, this could have implications on student retention and student satisfaction. With increasing numbers of ‘non-traditional’ students entering HE, additional support mechanisms and processes are needed to aid the transition of these students to HE. One such process piloted in September 2013 was the online ‘Summer Maths Bridging Course’. This pre-induction course was the first of its kind in this School and provided free basic maths tuition to undergraduates enrolled on to the Science Extended Degree in the School of Applied Sciences.
The course was delivered using multiple media formats such as pencasts, screencasts, worksheets and live webinars to encapsulate different learning styles. The students were encouraged to become independent learners through flexible self-study and were introduced to the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE) to assist them in their transition onto their degree. The course was designed and delivered by the School’s Academic Skills Tutors (ASTs). The engagement of
students with the course pre-induction not only improves students’ transition to HE, but also enables them to have direct contact with the ASTs. The underpinning academic skills support offered by ASTs is available to all undergraduates in the School of Applied Sciences therefore these tutors are pivotal to all students from pre-induction stage through to graduation.
Improvements have been made to the online course ready for its full rollout to all Year 1 Applied Sciences undergraduates in summer 2014 by collaborating with various Departments within the School to maximize its ‘impact’ and ‘effectiveness’ and by engaging with student feedback.
This paper will discuss the strategy of using Academic Skills Tutors and bridging courses to instruct and support STEM students from pre-induction stage through to graduation.


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