Interim report: ‘Problem Solving 2’

Sue Pope has submitted the following interim report for the project “PSUM: problem-solving in undergraduate mathematics” (referred to as “Problem Solving 2“).

To date one interactive starting point has been developed and there is a questionnaire available for users to report their experiences:

Picture This!‘ is an interactive problem solving application, to explore the application further, follow the link below.

A short anonymous questionnaire is available here (ethical clearance was obtained via Liverpool Hope University).

There are three other starting points in development: exploring graphs and networks, linear programming and ‘filling shapes’. All will be trialled at Liverpool Hope University and University of Cambridge as a minimum. Hopefully, focus groups will be held with some questionnaire respondents. The problem-solving starting points have been developed using open-source software and will be hosted by NRICH. This means that the longevity and sustainability of the approach is ensured.

Good links have been established with the HE STEM problem-solving project based at Coventry University and we have agreed to work collaboratively on the production of guidance. We will contribute cases studies on the use of the interactive problem-solving starting points. On 3 March we are presenting a joint paper at the BSRLM day conference in Manchester.

The progress against the proposed timeline is included in the Appendix. Progress has been slower than originally planned due to the project lead changing institutions and delays in getting information about some of the interactive starting points for problem-solving to the programmer.

However, we are confident that we will deliver four interactive starting points for problem-solving and contributions to guidance and case studies.


Key Activity Planned Date Actual Date Commentary
Notify mathematics community about the project through all existing networks August 2011 September 2011 MSOR and HE STEM conferences
Appoint technical expert to begin work on virtual problem solving environment August 2011 October 2011 Jason Davis appointed
Seminar for interested parties October 2011 Not held, meeting with other contractor November 2011
HE STEM workshop 26/10/2011 26/10/2011 Attended
Trialling and Evaluation of problems, generation of case studies November 2011 – January 2012 December 2011 – One problem is available for evaluation, three others are in development
Collation of material for problem solving guide November 2011 – February 2012 January 2012 – Working in collaboration with the other contractor who is leading on the development of the guide
Focus groups with students February 2012 Not held. Hope to have at least one focus group before the end of April 2012
Further refinement of problems February – March 2012 March 2012
Draft of problem solving guide and case studies sent for critical review by interested parties/stakeholder representatives March 2012 March-April 2012 In collaboration with other contractor
Independent testing of the virtual problem solving environment March 2012 March-April 2012
Preparation of dissemination materials April 2012
Case studies on problem solving complete 30/4/2012
Problem solving guide complete 30/4/2012
Virtual problem solving environment launched 30/4/2012 This will be a small number of starting points
Report completed 31/05/2012 31/05/2012
HE STEM dissemination event July 2012 July 2012


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