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Title: Evaluating student engagement with mathematics support
Author: Symonds, Ria
ISNI:       0000 0004 2683 9568
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis reports the findings of quantitative and qualitative research to evaluate the effectiveness of mathematics support and to examine the issue of student engagement in relation to its effectiveness. Usage data regarding Loughborough University's Mathematics Learning Support Centre was analysed to understand which students make use of the support and the extent of that usage. It was found that the majority of students who need mathematics support were not accessing the resources. Rich contextual data were gathered by interviews and focus groups, which indicated that a number of barriers had prevented students from initially using the support. However, whilst some students overcame these barriers to become regular users of the support, other students (who were 'at risk' of failing the mathematical component of their courses) did not. Students who were 'at risk' and had not accessed the support lacked the motivation to engage with mathematics and the available support. This thesis also evaluated the effectiveness of a proactive support initiative involving small group teaching. Despite encouraging students to engage with mathematics support, since they did not have to take the initiative themselves, it was revealed that a lack of student engagement had had a profound effect on the success of this support. Qualitative data was analysed to provide an insight as to why students had failed to engage with the initiative. Constructs of students' attitudes towards mathematics and their learning approaches were investigated. In particular, it was found that students who engage with mathematics support are generally well-motivated and cognitively engaged. These students held generally positive attitudes towards mathematics and deployed metacognitive learning strategies by regularly monitoring and directing their learning in order to achieve their high educational aims. This study ... has implications both for research and practice. From a practical perspective, it appears that mathematics support has moved from one of remedial support to one of enhancement. It is recommended that action should be taken to provide extrinsic motivation to encourage engagement with the support. However, from a research perspective, a more rigorous investigation of the students' attitudes and learning approaches and how these constructs relate to their levels of engagement with mathematics support would be useful. Further information in this area could be used to provide further quantification of the efficacy of mathematics support.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available