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Title: Students' experiences of studying undergraduate mathematics : an investigation of approach, support and identity
Author: MacBean, Judith
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis explores one group of undergraduate mathematics students’ experiences throughout their three year degree course, to gain a better understanding of why some students’ attitudes to mathematics change during this period. Research by the "Students Experiences of Undergraduate Mathematics" (SEUM) project (Wiliam, 2005) explored some of the factors influencing undergraduates. This study extends that work by investigating the experiences of another cohort, looking specifically at their approaches to learning, conceptions of mathematics, the support they encountered during their degree, and how these impacted on their attitudes. These themes were investigated throughout the students’ degree course, by taking a mixed methods approach to the research design. Questionnaire data was used to compare the cohorts’ approaches to learning, and conceptions of, mathematics, at the beginning and end of their course, and to investigate whether these factors related to the students’ examination marks. No statistically significant changes over the period were found, and contrary to previous research, no relationship was found between these factors and examination attainment. Four student case studies, combining both questionnaire and interview data, are presented to help explain these results, illustrating how contextual factors of the teaching and learning environment affected outcomes. Analysis of interview data demonstrated that the type and degree of support experienced was an important influence on these students. Dividing the analysis between the social support from peers, and the academic support of peers and staff in their department, led to insights into ways students do, or do not, integrate into the university context. This work highlights the importance of the social aspects of being an undergraduate, and of academic support in developing the students’ sense of belonging. This sense of belonging, or lack of, was a salient factor.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available