Students as partners in mathematics course design
2012-06-14T11:26:08Z (GMT) by
In the 2010-2011 academic year, the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Loughborough University secured HE-STEM funding to redesign two of its historically problematic modules, Vector Spaces and Complex Variables. The aim of the project was to enhance the second year undergraduate mathematics experience, and increase student engagement and satisfaction with mathematics so that students leave the second year reporting increased satisfaction with their learning experience. The project was a collaboration between staff and second-year students and a unique feature was the active participation of four second-year undergraduate mathematicians in the course design process. The four students were recruited as interns to produce teaching and learning resources that could potentially engage future cohorts of second year students. An ethnographic study was designed to understand the students’ role, experiences, working relationship with staff, and the resources that they were able to produce. Data on the students’ experiences were collected via diaries kept by the students, self-reflection and evaluation reports produced by the students, participant observation, and fieldnotes. Staff were also interviewed individually in order to collect data to triangulate the students’ accounts so as to increase the validity and reliability of the findings. In this paper we report on the data collected from the students. Findings from the study showed that the four students were socialised and drawn from the margins of ‘legitimate peripheral participation’ in academic practice into full participation of a community of practising mathematicians. The four student interns were able to play an important role as mathematics course designers, and gained a deeper understanding of the mathematics they worked on.