Monthly Archives: August 2012

Mathematical Sciences HE Curriculum Innovation Final Update

Hear me say this: Mathematical Sciences HE Curriculum Innovation Final Update (audio).

In the academic years 2010/11 and 2011/12 the Maths, Stats and OR (MSOR) Network supported a set of 32 projects on ‘Mathematical Sciences HE Curriculum Innovation’ through funding of around £250,000. This work was completed as part of the Mathematical Sciences Strand of the National HE STEM Programme.

The National HE STEM Programme was an initiative aiming to enable the HE sector to engage with schools, enhance curricula, support graduates and develop the workforce, operating through a three-year grant from the Higher Education Funding Councils for England and Wales.

This funding was distributed via a series of funding calls. Around 70% of the funding was allocated to addressing the recommendations of the HE Mathematics Curriculum Summit. In order to allow for interesting innovation which could not be predicted, calls for funding always included an open call for projects fitting the National HE STEM Programme aims. Around 30% of the funding allocated was for new innovations discovered this way.

Counting everybody who was named as a project collaborator or as an author in one of the publications (but not those who, for example, spoke at one of the workshops), this represents the work of more than 120 individuals working at 41 UK higher education institutions, two professional bodies, two schools, three non-UK universities and various companies There were over 50 workshops, seminars and conference presentations associated with this work.

The projects we supported have lots to share – good practice advice, evaluated innovative approaches, problem banks and other curriculum resources that you can pick up and use right away, and much more. A Summary booklet provides details of the aims, objectives, outputs and outcomes of each project with Links to access the resources created by each project. Projects are arranged into themed sections.

Developing graduate skills: A booklet was published collecting case studies of successful methods to improve graduate skills development – skills that employers require from graduate employees and academics seek in incoming PhD students – within a mathematical context. Three mini-projects were commissioned based on these case studies and provided evidence that some of this practice is suitable for transfer elsewhere. In addition, mathematics-specific resources and teaching practice on speaking and writing skills were developed and shared.

Engaging with employers: Projects working with employers, employees or professional bodies, either in delivery of a curriculum approach or providing input to develop good practice advice or curriculum resources that you can use. This includes resources giving an idea of what it is like to work as a mathematician and a survey of graduates’ views of the mathematics HE curriculum.

Industrial problems: Banks of real world problems developed in consultation with industrial partners made available for undergraduate projects in mathematics and statistics.

Problem-solving: Two projects working to share good practice and develop curriculum resources on the teaching of problem-solving. We say mathematics develops problem-solving but do we actually know how to develop problem-solving as a skill in our students?

Maths Arcade: An innovative practice involving developing mathematical thinking, providing student support (particularly at the transition to university) and building a staff and student mathematical community. A case study booklet gives details of its implementation at eight universities.

Student-centred Approaches: Projects working to accommodate student needs or taking a student-centred view on improving the undergraduate experience. Including methods for supporting students in different contexts, helping engineers better understand their mathematics and providing adjustments for students with disabilities.

Assessment: A major project conducted research to answer questions about what alternative methods of assessment can offer, evidence of validity and guidance on the process of changing your teaching to involve a new assessment type.

Audio-visual media in teaching and learning: Investigating the recording of lectures and other teaching and learning content, and the effectiveness of learning through audio-visual media.

Projects have completed research and collected good practice advice, developed innovative practice or produced and shared curriculum resources to address various issues in mathematical sciences HE curriculum development. The work includes the need to develop graduate skills and take account of employer requirements, while remembering to ground this in mathematical content and take account of the needs of the discipline. How the collected resources affect the ability of the higher education mathematical sciences community to more effectively develop graduate mathematicians depends on how well these are taken up. This substantial set of projects in curriculum development has produced outputs with the potential to be very useful. Please use them!

The most complete set of links to project resources can be accessed via Mathcentre. The project homepage and this blog also have lists of projects and publications.

You can find out about the wider National HE STEM Programme, of which we were part, by visiting the HE STEM website.