Eabhnat Ní Fhloinn: Measuring Effectiveness of Mathematics Support Through Student Feedback.

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Eabhnat Ní Fhloinn: Measuring Effectiveness of Mathematics Support Through Student Feedback.

  1. 1. Measuring Effectiveness of Mathematics Support through Student Feedback Eabhnat Ní Fhloinn Dublin City University 5 th December 2008
  2. 2. Overview of Presentation <ul><li>DCU Maths Learning Centre </li></ul><ul><li>Records Kept </li></ul><ul><li>Student Survey </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
  3. 3. DCU Maths Learning Centre <ul><li>Established in February 2004 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>School of Mathematical Sciences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Funded by HEA Strategic Initiatives Scheme (Student Retention) 2004-2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Permanent fixture since Sept 2007 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Funded by Faculty of Science and School of Mathematical Sciences </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Records Kept <ul><li>Registration Forms: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Completed by student on 1 st visit to drop-in centre </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Name, Student No., Module & Course Codes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How found out about MLC, Why coming, If online resources used, If mature student </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Attendance Forms: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Completed by student and tutor on every visit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Student: Name, Student No., Module Code </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tutor: Name, Date, Time arrived, Time left, Topics </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Records Kept <ul><li>Data inputted by Director into database </li></ul><ul><li>Advantages: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keeps student occupied when first arrives while tutor works with other students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students often forget student cards etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Disadvantages: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Time-consuming to collate data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Waste of paper! </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Reasons for Records <ul><li>More accurate picture of operation of MLC </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Director present for 10 hours out of 22 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can assess </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>busiest times </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>how long students stay </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>most common topics </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Paper trail </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If issues arise, know exactly when student attended and who was present </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Reasons for Records <ul><li>Research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students sign and date reg form so data can be stored and used for research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can focus on modules/class groups and study how often students attended and their exam grades to assess effectiveness of MLC </li></ul></ul><ul><li>However, records only give part of the picture… </li></ul>
  8. 8. Student Survey <ul><li>Anonymous questionnaire </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Given to 1 st year service-maths students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>20 questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mixture of Likert items and open-ended questions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In 2007-2008, over 400 respondents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More than half had used MLC </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Answered by 437 students </li></ul><ul><li>40% felt they “always” or “often” had difficulties </li></ul>
  10. 10. Specific Aspects of MLC Rated <ul><li>Very positive feedback on: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Refresher sessions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drop-in sessions during semester </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revision classes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drop-in sessions before exams </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online resources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>70-80% found them “very useful” or “useful” </li></ul>
  11. 11. “ What aspects of MLC’s service did you find satisfactory?” Number of Responses One-to-one support 79 Tutors 38 Online resources 26 Timetable 22 Revision classes 21 Friendliness / Helpfulness 12 Facilities 11 Notes 9 No appointment needed 5
  12. 12. Selected Comments <ul><li>“ One-to-one teaching very helpful, and I wasn’t afraid to ask questions as I would be in lecture.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I enjoyed the fact that the people were very friendly and that they went out of their way to help me.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The online resources meant I could go at my own pace with things I found difficult.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The revision class before the exam was extremely useful and made me feel more confident.” </li></ul>
  13. 13. “ Any unsatisfactory aspects?” <ul><li>Too many students, not enough tutors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ You could be waiting a while for help...I was completely lost and needed someone to sit the whole time with me.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Distracting when other students around </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ If there were lots of people, it was harder to concentrate.” </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. “ Any unsatisfactory aspects?” <ul><li>Certain tutors not helpful </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I found some of the tutors couldn’t explain things properly and were disappointing.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ There was one guy who was very patronising.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Some tutors ‘too smart’ and not helpful.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other aspects: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Room too small </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No full solutions for exercises </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Reasons for Not Using MLC Number of Responses No need / no problems 124 No time / Too busy 34 Timetable clash 15 Too lazy 15 Tutorials were enough 8 Unsure of timetable 6 Heard it was unhelpful 4 Unsure of location 3
  16. 16. Selected Comments <ul><li>“ Didn’t have time as I live too far away from college.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Assignment groups & lectures clashed with MLC.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Laziness mainly, too busy having fun and didn’t commit to any work outside my regular schedule.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Didn’t realise extent of problems until close to exam” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I hate maths. And I didn’t think it would help.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Heard from people who went that it wasn’t worthwhile going – waste of time.” </li></ul>
  17. 17. Some Observations <ul><li>Necessary to combine survey results with records for most accurate picture </li></ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><li>64 students said they attended refresher sessions and rated them... </li></ul><ul><li>...but records show only 56 students attended! </li></ul>
  18. 18. Some Observations <ul><li>Another example: </li></ul><ul><li>Some students mentioned trying to attend but room being full... </li></ul><ul><li>...but records show room was never full! </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students unsure of difference between names of various sessions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students can be put off if MLC seems busy </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Conclusion and Future Work <ul><li>Mixture of records and surveys give more accurate picture of operation of MLC </li></ul><ul><li>But anecdotal evidence also important! </li></ul><ul><li>More efficient method of recording data being investigated for DCU </li></ul>

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