This presentation will outline how a new Open University distance learning engineering module has supported first level undergraduate students with navigating the mathematical concepts needed to succeed. The module had 900 students on its first presentation and expects to maintain similar numbers annually. The module production task has therefore been to make effective use of technology to support students with varied mathematical ability whilst also remaining sustainable.
Using a scaffolded learning design to approach the threshold concept of rearranging equations and with regular formative testing throughout the module, students are empowered to own and develop their learning and master the mathematical concepts. The blend of the core module materials, Open Educational Resources (OER) and personal support from their tutor provide the supporting framework.
The design model empowers learners to test understanding of mathematical concepts, especially the specific threshold concept of rearranging equations, whilst providing resources and support, including alternative approaches, where they need help. Furthermore, a support forum enables students to seek help from peers and specialist tutors.
Through this combination of regular practice, a clear handheld design to learning for each week and focus on careful support through the teaching around rearranging equations, the module has improved retention rates for first level engineering in the institution by close to 9%.
Bahr, P. R. (2011) “Making sense of disparities in mathematics remediation: what is the role of student retention?” Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice vol. 12(1), pp. 25-49.
Land, R. & Meyer, E. (2010) “Threshold concepts and issues of interdisciplinarity”, in 3rd Biennial Threshold Concepts Symposium, University of New South Wales. Available at: http://tv.unsw.edu.au/video/professor-ray-land-and-professor-erik-meyer. Accessed 19 July 2016.
Tolley, P. A., Blat, C., McDaniel, C., Blackmon, D. & Royster, D. (2012) “Enhancing the mathematics skills of students enrolled in introductory engineering courses: eliminating the gap in incoming academic preparation.” Journal of STEM Education: Innovations & Research vol. 13(3), pp. 74-86.