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  • 1.
    Nilsson, Galina
    University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Land Surveying and Mathematics.
    Peer-Assisted Learning in Mathematics in Higher Education. 2010In: LTH:s Pedagogiska Inspirationskonferens: 6:e Pedagogiska inspirationskonferensen, dec 2010. Lund, 2010Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper explores opportunities for implementing a peer-tutoring system in mathematics in two contrasting settings: a traditional classroom environment with a teacher-centred educational process and the higher education environment where a range of student-centred teaching and learning methods has already been introduced. After a series of PAL sessions a questionnaire was distributed and in-depth interviews with the peer tutors were conducted. The analysis of the impact of peer-assisted learning (PAL) on the students' learning experience showed that the majority of students positively evaluated their PAL experience. The students felt that they were more actively engaged with and more in control of the learning process than during a traditional tutorial. This study demonstrated that the size of the groups, timing and the number of PAL sessions are crucial for successful implementation of PAL. The paper concludes with the recommendations for using PAL in a variety of educational settings.The higher education sector has been experiencing a dramatic change during the past decade: it is rapidly expanding both in the number and diversity of students. Student to staff ratio has enormously increased. The students are coming from different ethnic, social, and cultural backgrounds and have different levels of knowledge. The change in higher education from an "elite" to a "mass" system creates new challenges for educators. At the same time, the main features of the modern knowledge-based society, the society we live in, are the fast pace of technological advancements, interdisciplinary work organisation and globalisation of the work market. Educators in Europe are facing new challenges in preparing young people for their social and professional integration, successful career and personal development.

    The appropriate choice of teaching methods which meet the demands of the knowledge-based society, influence the learning process and accommodate the needs of young generation is crucial in achieving these tasks. Implementing student-centred approaches in the educational process creates the learning environment which stimulates students' learning developing their ability of independent and deep learning. 

  • 2.
    Nilsson, Galina
    et al.
    University West, Department of Engineering Science.
    Luchinskaja, Elena
    Leeds Universitet, UK.
    Providing university students vith effective maths support2013In: The 41st Annual Congress of the Nordic Educational Research Association: Disruptions and eruptions as opportunities for transforming education. Abstract book., Reykjavik: Nordic Educational Research Association, NERA , 2013, p. 143-Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    European universities are facing the fact that students entering higher education have a diverse

    level of maths knowledge which is often below university requirements. Teaching such a diverse

    student body is a challenging and complex task. In addition, students struggle with their studies

    which affects the university drop-out rate. This paper addresses the use and organisation of

    maths support provision in two universities: University West, Sweden and Leeds Metropolitan

    University, UK and is part of an on-going research collaboration between the two universities.

    The present study evaluates the efficiency of maths support in these institutions from both the

    academic staff and students’ perspective. Our study was conducted in two stages, based on

    qualitative methodology. We used mixed methods for our data collection: questionnaires for

    students, interviews with tutors and observations during the sessions. The combination of these

    methods gave us a fuller picture of the effectiveness of maths support in these two universities.

    Our study showed that students’ maths abilities and maths support requirements varied a lot.

    First year undergraduate students were mainly struggling to cope with their assignments and

    were looking for additional support to help with that. Often the lack of maths knowledge was

    intertwined with a lack of subject-specific knowledge. From the observations and interviews with

    tutors it was noticeable that students tended to adopt a ’solve it for me’ approach. From students’

    feedback it was clear that they highly appreciated the maths support provision. They found the

    environment more friendly and supportive than normal tutorials. They felt at ease to ask more

    questions and to clearly indicate what they did not know. They appreciated that tutors were able

    to meet their needs and explained the problems in a variety of ways and in small, easy to follow,

    steps.

    The paper concludes with recommendations for improving the effectiveness of maths support for

    students and discusses how the research can be taken further.

  • 3.
    Nilsson, Galina
    et al.
    University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Land Surveying and Mathematics.
    Luchinskaya, D.
    Provision of maths support for student in higher education institutions2012In: The 40th Annual Congress of the Nordic Educational Research Association: March 8-10, 2012, Copenhagen, Aarhus: Department of Eduation, Aarhus University , 2012, p. 283-Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    European countries including Scandinavian countries are facing a crisis in preparing qualified staff for working in science and engineering. Declining numbers of students pursuing careers in these areas and poor quality of maths education in secondary schools are the principal factors contributing to this problem.

    Students entering universities have a diverse level of maths knowledge which is often below university requirements. University teachers face a challenging and complex task of teaching such a diverse student body. One of the most common ways to tackle this problem and to raise the level of students' maths knowledge to the required standard is to introduce a maths foundation course prior to mainstream teaching. However, this is not always possible because of academic staff availability and/or time and cost constraints.

    Another solution is to provide additional help with maths-related problems by running drop-in sessions, workshops and/or tutorials.

    This study analyses the efficiency of maths support provision in two universities: Leeds Metropolitan University, UK and Högskolan Väst, Sweden. This is an on-going collaboration between two universities and in this paper we present the results of this study focussing on the academic staff prospective, using questionnaires, observations and interviews with tutors.

    Based on the collected data we concluded that often students are not fully engaged during workshops. They prefer a 'solve this for me' approach which they try to achieve during individual sessions and which is not always possible with the course tutor. However, implementing methods which increase students' engagement with the learning process (e.g. problem-based learning andpeer-assisted learning) can be more useful. Running subject-specific workshops (e.g. for nurses, business students or teachers) helps to focus on students' particular needs, and individual tutorials can accommodate other needs.

    The paper concludes with recommendations for improving the efficiency of maths support for students.

  • 4.
    Nilsson, Galina
    et al.
    University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Land Surveying and Mathematics. University West, Department of Engineering Science.
    Luchinskaya, E
    Developing generic and subject specific competences through non-traditional teaching methods2009In: European Educational Research Association conference: ECER 2009, 25-30 september, Vienna, 2009Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 5.
    Nilsson, Galina
    et al.
    University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Land Surveying and Mathematics.
    Luchinskaya, E
    Enhancing student employability prospects through competence development: using non-traditional methods in teaching mathematics in higher education2010In: NERA ‘ s 38 th Congress: Malmö, 11-13 March 2010, Malmö University School of Teacher Education, Malmö: Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA) , 2010, p. 144-144Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Research topic/aim: This paper analyses student and academic experience in generic and subject specific competence development to evaluate the potential of using problem-based learning (PBL) and peer-assisted learning (PAL) in raising student employability prospects. The fast pace of technological advancements, interdisciplinary work organisation and globalisation of the work market are the main features of the modern knowledge-based society. Equipping students with competences that are required for their social and professional integration, successful career and personal development is becoming a key mission of the higher education sector. Fostering effective teaching and learning methods facilitates the acquisition of professional skills and competences. This paper explores the opportunities for implementing PBL and PAL in delivering mathematics on a range of programmes at the University Väst in Sweden focusing on the development of generic and subject specific competences. Theoretical framework: This study is underpinned by the socio-cultural theory of the learning processes which was originally formulated by Vygotsky and is currently experiences a tremendous peak of its popularity. PBL encourages deeper learning via meaning construction and connecting ideas. It stimulates collaborative knowledge building process among participants and develops self-directed learning. PAL is an example of a student-to student support scheme grounded in collaborative learning. PAL is aimed to improve student performance and develop a range of study skills through creating an informal environment for learning. The introduction of both methods into the educational process independently and at the same has a broad potential. Methodology/research design: Our study was carried out in the University Väst, Sweden in 2005-2009. The first year students on the ‘Land Surveyors’ and ‘Computer Science’ undergraduate programme participated in this study. Two pedagogical methods — PBL and a combination of PBL and PAL were incorporated into the mathematics modules delivery. The lectures were delivered in a traditional way; PBL and PAL were used throughout tutorials. The students were solving applied mathematical problems working in small groups. The problems selected were aimed to acquire a set of competences relevant to their future career. To evaluate the outcomes of this study, a questionnaire consisted of multiple choice and openended questions was designed where the students could comment on their learning experience. The interviews with tutors were conducted. The study has drawn a comparison between the development of particular competences and the use of PBL, PAL and traditional methods. Expected conclusions/findings: The results showed that the students evaluated PAL and PBL methods as useful and valuable. The students indicated that have developed problem solving skills, advanced their analytical skills and ability to apply mathematical tools. These competences are important for their future employment. The students highly rated collaboration with peers. It was noted that the selection of the problems, the number of students enrolled on the course, the choice of peer tutors, the way how training sessions are organised, the number and timing of the sessions are crucial for the successful implementation of PAL and PBL. Relevance for Nordic Educational research: Higher education systems in Europe including Scandinavia are facing new challenges in raising employability of students. The appropriate choice of teaching methods is instrumental to a successful implementation of this task. The paper concludes with recommendations for fostering PAL and PBL as they represent a useful educational tool which encourages the development of generic and subject specific competences.

  • 6.
    Nilsson, Galina
    et al.
    University West, Department of Engineering Science.
    Luchinskaya, E
    University West, Department of Engineering Science.
    Using Problem-based and Peer-assisted Learning in Teaching Mathematics to University Students: Focus on Competence Development2009In: British Educational Research Association conference: BERA 2009, Manchester University, Manchester, UK, 2-5 September 2009, 2009Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The harmonisation and internationalisation of higher education systems in Europe driven by the principles encapsulated in the Bologna Declaration [1] are offering new agendas for educators. The shift towards a student centred educational paradigm with the focus on learning outcomes and acquired competences highlights various ways in which this process can be mediated. An appropriate choice of teaching methods is instrumental to a successful educational process. The use of different teaching and learning styles such as discussions, group work, case studies, problem-based learning (PBL), peer-assisted learning (PAL) and critical thinking enables deeper engagement of learners within the learning process and at the same time facilitates the acquisition of professional skills and competences [2, 3].

    The paper assesses the impact of PAL and PBL methods applied in teaching Mathematics to students on the 'Land Surveyors' programme, on student experience across generic and subject specific competence development.

    The carried out research had the following objectives:

    To plan and select tasks for tutorials where students can practise PBL;To design and implement several PAL sessions to facilitate the development of problem solving skills;To design questionnaires to evaluate the quality of student experience;To analyse the challenges university teachers face in implementing innovative approaches to teaching and the competence development.

    There is a substantial body of literature on the PAL [e.g. 4] and PBL methodology [e.g. 5, 6]. PAL is an example of a student-to student support scheme grounded in collaborative learning. PAL  is aimed to improve student performance and  develop a range of study skills through creating an informal environment for learning. At the same time PBL encourages deeper learning via meaning construction and connecting ideas. It stimulates collaborative knowledge building process among participants and develops self-directed learning. The introduction of both methods into the educational process at the same has a broad potential.

    Our study was carried out in the University Väst, Sweden during 9 weeks in 2008. The 'Core  Mathematics' module (7.5 credits) is one of the cornerstone modules of the 'Land Surveyors' programme curriculum. The competences acquired by students while on this module are fundamental for the future study. 42 first year students on the 'Land Surveyors' undergraduate programme participated in this study. Two pedagogical methods – PAL and PBL have been incorporated into the programme delivery. PBL method has been already introduced before in University Vast in Computer Science programmes [7] and this method was highly appreciated by students. In order to introduce PBL and PAL methods into the course design and to stimulate student involvement in the educational process, it was decided to keep a traditional layout of lectures but to change the way seminars were conducted. PBL method was used throughout the tutorials but three PAL sessions were introduced at the end of the course.

    The students were solving applied mathematical problems working in small groups of five. The selection of problems was based on the relevance of the competences acquired through this activity to their future career. The introduction of PAL and PBL methods was focused in particular on the developing problem-solving and analytical skills as well as developing ability to formulate the problem mathematically. A peer tutor from the same student cohort was assigned to each group and training sessions for them were organised. To evaluate the outcomes of this study, the questionnaire was designed where the students could evaluate their learning experience. In addition, the peer tutors were interviewed. The results of the survey were statistically analysed. The results showed that the students evaluated PAL and PBL methods as useful and valuable. The students positively evaluated the peer tutors' performance. They thought that the group leaders were well-prepared, competent and could clearly explain the problems to peers.

    The analysed data indicated that over 60 percent of the students estimated that have developed problem solving skills, while 35 percent indicated that they advanced their analytical skills and ability to apply mathematical tools. The students highly rated working in groups and commented on the positive effects of collaboration with peers. In their comments they pointed out that it was easier for them to ask questions, get support and explanation The students perceived the use of PAL and PBL approaches as a useful contribution to their learning experience.

    The introduction of non-traditional methods into educational process creates new challenges for tutors. The selection of the problems, the number of students enrolled on the course, the choice of peer tutors, the way how training sessions are organised, the number and timing of the sessions are crucial for the successful implementation of the PAL and PBL.

    In conclusion, this study demonstrates that the use PAL and PBL was rewarding and overall well received by the students at University Vast. The results of the final exams showed an improvement in student grades compared to previous years. The opportunity of implementing a more individual and flexible approach to the educational process led to improved generic and subject specific competences.

    References

     

    1. The Bologna Declaration of 19 June 1999 http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/documents/MDC/BOLOGNA_DECLARATION1.pdf

    2. Moon, J. (2002) The module and programme development handbook. London: Kogan Page.

    3. Ramsden, P. (2003) Learning to teach in higher education (2nd ed). New York: Routledge Falmer.

    4. Peer Assisted Learning, Topping, K. and Ehly, S. (Eds.),  Lawrence Erlbaum, 1998

    5. Dahlgren, M. (2003) PBL through the looking glass: Comparing applications in computer engineering, psychology, physiotherapy. International Journal of Engineering Education, 19 (5), 672-681.

    6. Dahlgren. L. O. (1998) "Problembaserat lärande - Idé, Praktik Och Effeter", Linköpings Universitet.

    Nilsson G. and Luchinskaya E. "Developing Competences Using Problem-based Learning: a Case Study of Teaching Mathematics to Computer Science Students", Journal of Research in Teacher Education, 2007, No 3. p 13-21. 

  • 7.
    Nilsson, Galina
    et al.
    University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Land Surveying and Mathematics.
    Luchinskaya, E.
    Nilsson, R.
    Using peer-assisted learning in mathematics and physics in higher education in Sweden and Russia2010In: British Educational Research Association conference 2010: BERA 2010, 1-4 Sept, University of Warwick, Warwick, 2010, p. 0581-Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper explores students' experience of peer tutor system in Mathematics and Physics education in two contrasting settings. The first one is a traditional classroom environment with a teacher centred educational process, the other is tutorials in the higher education where a range of student-centred teaching and learning methods has already been introduced [1-3].

    The education systems in Europe are facing new challenges in preparing young people for their social and professional integration, successful career and personal development in the modern knowledge-based society. The implementation of this task influences approaches to teaching and learning in so far as greater emphasis is placed on learner, learning outcomes and student competence. As a consequence, the old educational paradigm and didactical approaches which stress knowledge acquisition are being replaced by new pedagogical approaches with a focus on students and their learning process, particular on meeting learning outcomes and students' competence development.

    The appropriate choice of teaching methods is instrumental to a successful implementation this task. Fostering effective teaching and learning methods such as discussions, group work, case studies, problem-based learning, peer-assisted learning and critical thinking facilitates the acquisition of professional skills and competences.

    This paper explores the opportunities for fostering peer assisted learning (PAL) in teaching Physics at A-level and in delivering Mathematics at the university level. The study was carried out at University Väst, Sweden and School No 99 (with profound mathematics and physics education, in association with Moscow State Institute of Radio-engineering, Electronics and Automation), Moscow, Russia. The Physics education curriculum in this school corresponds to the first year curriculum in the UK and Swedish universities.

    There is a substantial body of literature on the PAL methodology. [e.g. 4, 5]. PAL is an example of a student-to student support scheme grounded in collaborative learning. PAL is aimed to improve student performance and to develop a range of study skills through creating an informal environment for learning. This method has been applied across a range of disciplines and is becoming an important part in programmes' delivery.

    The carried out research had the following objectives:

    to explore opportunities for fostering PAL in traditional classroom and in university practice to enhance students' performance.to evaluate and compare the quality of students' experience of using PAL in both settings;to analyse the challenges teachers face in implementing innovative approaches to teaching and learning in two different settings.

     

    Methodology

    Our study was carried out in 2008. 31 A-level student studying Physics and 42 first year students on the 'Land Surveyors' undergraduate programme participated in this study. PAL sessions have been incorporated into the Physics subject and 'Core  Mathematics' module delivery. The lectures were delivered in a traditional way; several PAL sessions were introduced during tutorials.

    The students worked in groups of five. A-level students were grouped according to their performance. The university students were randomly divided into groups.

    A peer tutor from the same student cohort was assigned to each group and trained. Peer tutors were selected from the more advanced students. The tutors decided themselves which teaching method they were going to use.

    The questionnaire was designed to evaluate the students' learning experience. In addition, the peer tutors were interviewed. The results of the survey were statistically analysed and compared with the previous test results.

    Findings

    Our findings showed that all A-level students and over 60% of the students at University Vast evaluated PAL method as useful and valuable. The students highly rated collaboration with peers and commented that it was easier to ask questions, get support and explanation. Over 80% of A-level students and over 50% of university students felt that PAL stimulated their activity. They felt that they were more in control of their learning and found it more enjoyable. However, the university students, having experienced the use of problem based learning (PBL), rated PBL higher than PAL.

    Both student samples positively evaluated the peer tutors' performance.

    Our study showed that the number of students enrolled on the course, the choice of peer tutors and timing of the sessions are crucial for the successful implementation of PAL. The test results showed an improvement in student grades.

    The paper concludes with recommendations for fostering PAL.

    References

    Nilsson G. and Luchinskaya E. "Problem-based Learning and competence development: a Case Study of Teaching Mathematics to Computer Science Students", Journal of Research in Teacher Education, 2007, No 3. p 13-21.Nilsson G. and Luchinskaya E, "Developing students' competences through problem based learning: a case study of delivering 'Decision Mathematics' module on Computer Science programme". Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Conference BERA 2008, Edinburgh, September, 2008Luchinskaya E., Nilsson G. and Williams C., "Developing students' competences in the light of Bologna process: the responses from Sweden and Russia". Paper presented at the European Educational Research Conference, ECER 2008, Gothenburg, Sweden, September 2008.Peer Assisted Learning, Topping, K. and Ehly, S. (Eds.), Lawrence Erlbaum, 1998 Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, Volume 12, Issue 2 June 2001 , pages 113 - 132Peer Learning in Higher Education. Learning from & with each other. Boud D., Cohen R. and Sampson J.(Eds.) Kogan Page, 2001. 

  • 8.
    Nilsson, Galina
    et al.
    University West, Department of Engineering Science. University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Land Surveying and Mathematics.
    Luchinskaya, E
    Ratbil, E
    Using peer-assisted learning in Sweden and Russia: preparing active citizens for their future professional life2010In: NERA’s 38th Congress.: 11-13 March 2010, Malmö University School of Teacher Education, Malmö: Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA) , 2010, p. 129-130Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Research topic/aim: This paper evaluates and compares students’ and academics’ experience of peer tutor system in Mathematics and Physics education in two contrasting settings. The first one is a traditional classroom environment with a teacher centred educational process (Russia), the other is tutorials in the higher education where a range of student-centred teaching and learning methods has already been introduced (Sweden). The education systems in Europe including Scandinavia are facing new challenges in preparingyoung people for their social and professional integration, successful career and personal development in the modern knowledge-based society. The implementation of this task influences approaches to teaching and learning in so far as greater emphasis is placed on learner, learning outcomes and student competence. The appropriate choice of teaching methods is instrumental to a successful implementation this task. Theoretical framework: This study is underpinned by the socio-cultural theory of the learning processes which was originally formulated by Vygotsky and is based on the idea that knowledge is socially and culturally constructed. The research has also demonstrated that the teaching practices that teachers adopt affect students’ learning process. Our study adopted teaching methods based on the learning-focused conception. PAL is an example of a student-to student support scheme grounded in collaborative learning. PAL is aimed to improve student performance and to develop a range of study skills through creating an informal environment for learning. This method has been applied across a range of disciplines and is becoming an important part in programmes’ delivery. Methodology/research design: Our study was carried out in 2008. 31 A-level student studying Physics and 42 first year students on the ‘Land Surveyors’ undergraduate programme participated in this study. PAL sessions have been incorporated into the Physics subject and Core Mathematics’ module delivery. The lectures were delivered in a traditional way; several PAL sessions were introduced during tutorials. A-level students were grouped according to their performance. The university students were randomly divided into groups. A peer tutor from the same student cohort was assigned to each group and trained. Peer tutors were selected from the more advanced students. The tutors decided themselves which teaching method they were going to use. The questionnaire was designed to evaluate the students’ learning experience with the focus on competence development. In addition, the peer tutors and both lecturers were interviewed.Expected conclusions/findings: Our findings showed that all A-level students and over 60% of the students at University Vast evaluated PAL method as useful and valuable. The students highly rated collaboration with peers and commented that it was easier to ask questions, get support and explanation. Both groups of students felt that PAL stimulated their activity, that they were more in control of their learning and found it more enjoyable. The evaluation of students’ level of generic and subject specific competences prior to the study and after the study was analysed. The analysis shows that students developed such competences as critical thinking, problem solving, decision making etc which are importance for becoming active members of the society. Our study showed that the number of students enrolled on the course, the choice of peer tutors and timing of the sessions are crucial for the successful implementation of PAL. Relevance for Nordic Educational research: The results of this study enable to identify the ways to further develop student competences which are necessary for their active participation in a democratic society through the use of best practice and knowledge transfer.

  • 9.
    Nilsson, Galina
    et al.
    University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Land Surveying and Mathematics.
    Luchinskaya, Elena
    Leeds Metropolitan University.
    Do We Deliver Effective Maths Support for Students?2012In: The European Conference on Educational Research 2012: Cadiz, 18-21 september 2012, 2012Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    European countries are facing a crisis in preparing qualified staff for working in science and engineering. Declining numbers of students pursuing careers in these areas and poor quality of maths education in secondary schools are the principal factors contributing to this problem.

    Students entering universities have a diverse level of maths knowledge which is often below university requirements. University teachers often face a challenging and complex task of teaching such a diverse student body. One of the most common ways to tackle this problem and to raise the level of students' maths knowledge to the required standard is to introduce a maths foundation course before to mainstream teaching begins. However, this is not always possible because of academic staff availability and/or time and cost constraints. Another solution is to provide additional help with maths-related problems by running drop-in sessions, workshops and/or tutorials.

    This study analyses the efficiency of maths support provision in two universities: Leeds Metropolitan University, UK and University West, Sweden and is part of an ongoing research collaboration between the two universities. The present work reflects the first stage of this research and is focused on evaluating the efficiency of the maths support in these two institutions from the perspectives of academic staff. The next stage of our research will include the analysis of this provision from the students' perspectives.

    The literature on this topic is growing but limited and is mainly focussed either on quantitative indicators: the numbers of maths support centres and staff employed, hours when this support is available, numbers of students attending etc. [e.g.1, 2] or at the correlation between maths support session attendance and students' test or exam results [3].

    However, there has been little research about how the tutors who deliver this maths support evaluate the effectiveness of their work and what they think can be done to provide maths support which can successfully meet students' needs.

    In both universities the main part of maths support provision consists of drop-in workshops which are available throughout the week. Leeds Metropolitan University does not offer very maths intensive courses, however, maths elements are incorporated into a number of subject areas such as  nursing, business, sports science psychology, education etc. There are specific workshops for maths and statistics. Two dedicated members of staff from the maths support centre run these one hour sessions. University West offers both maths intensive courses such as engineering and computer science, and less maths intensive courses such as education and nursing. Its maths workshops are open to all students and cover all subject areas. Selected academic staff from the Maths department are appointed to run three-to-four hour sessions three times a week as part of their teaching load.

    One tutor from Leeds Metropolitan University and three tutors from University West participated in the study.

    MethodOur study is conducted in two stages and uses mixed methods for data collection: questionnaires for students, interviews with tutors and observations during the sessions. The combination of these methods will give us a fuller picture of the effectiveness of maths support in these two universities. At this stage of our research we collected information about which students used the sessions – their departments, year and course of study, why they attended and what problems they needed help with – which we then analysed. We also observed how tutors were coping with a wide range of maths topics and teaching methods. We conducted interviews with the tutors to understand in more detail how they work, the difficulties they face, the types of problems that arise and the ways students expect help to be provided as well as tutors' ideas about more effective ways of providing maths support. At the next stage of our research we will be analysing the feedback from students and their suggestions on how maths support provision can be improved. The two-stage approach will provide us with a better understanding of the students' real needs and will facilitate the deployment of more effective student support.

    Expected OutcomesThe academic staff from both universities noticed a broad variation in students' maths abilities. The majority of workshop attendees were first year students struggling with their assignments as well as undergraduates who failed their exams and wanted help as part of their resit preparation. High performing students sometimes came to perfect their knowledge. In Leeds, postgraduate students often attended the workshops, particularly on statistical data analysis. The students came from a wide range of subject areas and tutors found that sometimes it took extra time to answer the students' subject-specific questions. The number of attendees increased before exams or project submission deadlines. Based on the interviews and observations we concluded that students are often not fully engaged during the workshops, instead preferring a 'solve this for me' approach. However, implementing student-centred methods which increase students' engagement with the learning process (e.g. problem-based learning and peer-assisted learning [4-6]) can help.  Subject-specific workshops (e.g. for nurses, business students or teachers) help to focus on students' particular needs, and individual tutorials can accommodate other needs. The paper concludes with recommendations for improving the effectiveness of maths support for students and discusses the next stage of the research.

    References1. Perkin G. and Croft T. (2004), "Mathematics Support Centres – the extent of current provision", MSOR Connections, May 2004, Vol. 6 No 2 p 14-18. 2. Lawson, D.A. and Reed J. (2002), "University mathematics support centres: help for struggling students". In Ivanchev, D. and Todorov, M.D (eds.), Applications of Mathematics in Engineering and Economics. Heron Press, Sofia, pp.686-692 3. Pell G. and Croft T., (2008), "Mathematics Support – Support for all?" Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, 27 (4), pp. 167-173. 4. Anari M., (2006) An analysis of a maths workshop – students with mathematical difficulties. (in Swedish). Thesis. Mälardalen University, the Library of the Institute for Mathematics and  Physics. 5. Nilsson G. and Luchinskaya E. (2007), "Problem-based Learning and competence development: a Case Study of Teaching Mathematics to Computer Science Students", Journal of Research in Teacher Education, 2007, No 3. p 13-21. 6. Nilsson G. and Luchinskaya E. (2009), " Using Problem-based and Peer-assisted Learning in Teaching Mathematics to University Students: Focus on Competence Development." Paper presented at the European Educational Research Conference, ECER 2009, Vienna, Austria, September 2009.

  • 10.
    Nilsson, Galina
    et al.
    University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Mechanical Engineering and Natural Sciences.
    Luchinskaya, Elena
    Leeds Beckett University, Lancaster University, United Kingdom.
    Kristiansson, Lilia
    University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Mechanical Engineering and Natural Sciences.
    Enhancing Students' Performance In Maths Through Supplemental Instruction2016Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 11.
    Nilsson, Galina
    et al.
    University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Land Surveying and Mathematics.
    Luchinskaya, Elena
    Kristiansson, Lilia
    University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Process and Product Development.
    Luchinskaya, Daria
    Competence Development and Employability Prospects: Using Non-traditional teaching Methods in a Changing Higher Education Environment 2010In: European Conference on educational research: ECER 2010, 23-27 August, Helsinki, 2010, p. 451-Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The cultural changes in the modern society create new challenges for educators in Europe. The higher education curriculum has changed from factual knowledge acquisition to developing students' competences and skills in response to a changing professional environment. This paper analyses student experience and academic results in generic and subject-specific competence development in order to evaluate the potential of using problem-based learning (PBL) and project-based (PrBL) learning to increase the  students´ prospects of employment. The fast pace of technological advancements, interdisciplinary work, changing organisations and globalisation of the workplace characterize the modern knowledge-based society. Equipping students with competences required for their social and professional integration, successful career and personal development is a key mission of the higher education sector. Promoting effective teaching and learning methods facilitates the acquisition of professional skills and competence, and at the same time addresses the needs of a diverse student body in higher education. 

    This paper explores the opportunities for implementing PBL and PrBL in a range of programmes at the University West, Sweden and Lancaster University, UK focusing on the development of generic and subject specific competences. This is an on-going collaboration between two universities [1-3]. 

    PBL and PrBL are the examples of collaborative student-focused learning and are supported by constructivist theory [4-6]. These methods encourage deeper learning via meaning construction, connecting ideas as well as creating meaningful artifacts. They stimulate a collaborative process of building among participants, develop self-directed learning, improve student performance and develop a range of study skills through creating an informal environment for learning. 

    Our study was carried out at the University West, Sweden and Lancaster University, UK in 2009. The objectives of the study were: 

    • To assess the level of student-acquired competences, generic and subject-specific (mathematics, engineering)

    • To evaluate the quality of student experience by assessing the impact of PBL and PrBL on students' competence development;

    • To identify the best practice and opportunities for promoting effective teaching and learning methods to enhance student employability prospects. 

    Method

    In Sweden, the first-year students in the ' Surveyors' and the second-year students on 'Basic Principles of Turbomachinery and Hydraulics' undergraduate programmes participated in this study. The lectures were delivered in a traditional way; PBL was used throughout tutorials. The students solved applied mathematical problems aimed at acquiring a set of competences working in small groups. To evaluate the outcomes of this study, each group had to reflect on what they learned during each PBL session, how the session affected their learning process and their competence development. At Lancaster University the first-year mechanical engineering students reflected on their experience of project-based learning. The students had to design, build and test a lifting device working in groups of four. The lectures and tutorials in the programme were conducted in a traditional way. By the end of the project the students responded to a questionnaire consisted of open-ended questions.

    Expected Outcomes

    The results showed that the Swedish students evaluated PBL method highly, finding it useful, activating and valuable. The students indicated they developed problem-solving skills, advanced their analytical skills and ability to apply mathematical tools. These competences are important for their future employment. The students rated collaboration with peers highly. The students at Lancaster University pointed out the necessity of developing time management, communication with peers in the groups and organisational skills. The students stressed that problem-solving and decision-making were very important as they had to choose the right design concept to work with. Assigning tasks and requiring completion by a required date were the skills that the students had to learn while working as a team. The paper concludes with recommendations for promoting PBL and PrBL as they represent useful educational tools which encourage the development of generic and subject-specific competences. They also provide the opportunities to accommodate a diverse range of student learning-styles and academic backgrounds.

     

    References

    1. Nilsson G. and Luchinskaya E. "Problem-based Learning and competence development: a Case Study of Teaching Mathematics to Computer Science Students", Journal of Research in Teacher Education, 2007, No 3. p 13-21.

    2. Nilsson G. and Luchinskaya E. Using Problem-based and Peer-assisted Learning in Teaching Mathematics to University Students: Focus on Competence Development. Paper presented at the European Educational Research Conference, ECER 2009, Vienna, Austria, September 2009.

    3. Luchinskaya E., Nilsson G. and Williams C., "Developing students' competences in the light of Bologna process: the responses from Sweden and Russia". Paper presented at the European Educational Research Conference, ECER 2008, Gothenburg, Sweden, September 2008.

    4. Vygotsky, L. S. Mind in society. The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1978

    5. Phillips, D. Constructivism in education: Opinions and second opinions on controversial issues. Chicago, IL University of Chicago Press, 2000

    6. Light, G., Cox, R., & Calkins, S. (2009) Teaching and learning in higher education: The reflective professional. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2009. 

  • 12.
    Nilsson, Galina
    et al.
    University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Land Surveying and Mathematics.
    Luchinskaya, Elena
    Nilsson, Rimma
    Higher Education in Change: Peer-assisted Learning Applied to Mathematics and Physical Science for Engineers in Sweden and Russia 2010In: European Conference on educational research: ECER 2010, 23-27 August, Helsinki, 2010, p. 1581-Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper evaluates and compares the students' and academics' experience of peer tutoring system in mathematics and physics for engineers in higher education. The higher education sector has been experiencing a dramatic change during the past decade: it is rapidly expanding both in the number and diversity of students. Student to staff ratio has enormously increased. The students are coming from different ethnic, social, and cultural backgrounds and have different levels of knowledge. The change in higher education from an "elite" to a "mass" system creates new challenges for educators. At the same time, the main features of the modern knowledge-based society, the society we live in, are the fast pace of technological advancements, interdisciplinary work organisation and globalisation of the work market. Educators in Europe are facing new challenges in preparing young people for their social and professional integration, successful career and personal development.

     The appropriate choice of teaching methods which meet the demands of the knowledge-based society, influence the learning process and accommodate the needs of young generation is crucial in achieving these tasks. Implementing student-centred approaches in the educational process creates the learning environment which stimulates students' learning and develops their ability of independent and deep learning [1].

    This study is underpinned by the socio-cultural theory of the learning processes which was originally formulated by Vygotsky and is based on the idea that knowledge is socially and culturally constructed [2-4]. On the other hand, the research has also demonstrated that the teaching practices that teachers adopt affect students' learning process. Our study adopted teaching methods based on the learning-focused conception.  PAL is an example of a student-to student support scheme grounded in collaborative learning. PAL is aimed to improve student performance and to develop a range of study skills through creating an informal environment for learning. This method has been applied across a range of disciplines and is becoming an important part in programmes' delivery.

    This study is an on-going collaboration between University West, Sweden, Lancaster University, UK and School No. 99, Moscow Russia [5-7]. Our study was carried out in 2008-2009. The Russian educational environment can be characterised as traditional classroom environment with a teacher centred educational process. In the case of Sweden, a range of student-centred teaching and learning methods has already been introduced.

     The research carried out had the following objectives:  

    ·       To explore opportunities for implementing PAL in traditional classroom and in university settings to enhance students' performance.

    ·       To evaluate and compare the quality of students' experience of using PAL in both settings and at different levels  (AS, A levels) in the case of Russian students.

    ·       To analyse the challenges teachers face in implementing innovative approaches to teaching and learning in two different settings.

    AS and A-level students studying Physics at the School No. 99 (which specialises in mathematics and physics education), Moscow took part in this research. First year students on the 'Land Surveyors' and 'Mechanical Engineering' undergraduate programmes from the University West (Sweden) participated in this study.

     

    MethodPAL sessions have been incorporated into the Physics subject and 'Mathematics' module delivery. The lectures were delivered in a traditional way; several PAL sessions were introduced during tutorials. AS-level students were grouped according to their performance. A-level students formed the groups according to their choice. The university students were randomly divided into groups. A peer tutor from the same student cohort was assigned to each group and trained. Peer tutors were selected from the more advanced students. The questionnaire was designed to evaluate the students' learning experience. Group interviews and the interviews with group leaders and both lecturers were carried out.

    Expected OutcomesOur findings showed that all AS and A-level students and the majority of the students at University Vast evaluated PAL method as useful and valuable. The students highly rated collaboration with peers and commented that it was easier to ask questions, get support and explanation although the AS students did not feel confident at the beginning. Both groups of students felt that PAL stimulated their activity, that they were more in control of their learning and found it more enjoyable. The Russian students felt more relaxed and were not afraid of getting a low mark as they normally would be in a traditional classroom. Our study showed that the number of students enrolled on the course, the choice of peer tutors and timing of the sessions are crucial for the successful implementation of PAL. During the interviews both lecturers stressed that they could use their time more efficiently. This activity gave an opportunity to a Russian tutor to prepare the additional material. The Russian students were so taken by this experience that they recommended the other tutors to introduce this method. The paper concludes with the suggestions for further development in using PAL in a variety of settings. 

  • 13.
    Nilsson, Galina
    et al.
    University West, Department of Engineering Science, Division of Land Surveying and Mathematics.
    Luchinskaya, G
    Ratbil, E
    Comparative case study of using non-traditional methods in two contrasting educational environments: implementing peer-assisted learning in Sweden and Russia2009In: The European Conference on Educational Research. ECER 2009: Vienna, Austria from  25 - 26 September 2009, 2009, p. 1105-Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper explores students' experience of peer tutor system in Mathematics and Physics education in two contrasting settings. The first one is a traditional classroom environment with a teacher centred educational process, the other is tutorials in the higher education where a range of student-centred teaching and learning methods has already been introduced [1-3]. The education systems in Europe are facing new challenges in preparing young people for their social and professional integration, successful career and personal development in the modern knowledge-based society. The implementation of this task influences approaches to teaching and learning in so far as greater emphasis is placed on learner, learning outcomes and student competence. As a consequence, the old educational paradigm and didactical approaches which stress knowledge acquisition are being replaced by new pedagogical approaches with a focus on students and their learning process, particular on meeting learning outcomes and students' competence development. The appropriate choice of teaching methods is instrumental to a successful implementation this task. Fostering effective teaching and learning methods such as discussions, group work, case studies, problem-based learning, peer-assisted learning and critical thinking facilitates the acquisition of professional skills and competences. This paper explores the opportunities for fostering peer assisted learning (PAL) in teaching Physics at A-level and in delivering Mathematics at the university level. The study was carried out at University Väst, Sweden and School No 99 (with profound mathematics and physics education, in association with Moscow State Institute of Radio-engineering, Electronics and Automation), Moscow, Russia. The Physics education curriculum in this school corresponds to the first year curriculum in the UK and Swedish universities. There is a substantial body of literature on the PAL methodology. [e.g. 4, 5]. PAL is an example of a student-to student support scheme grounded in collaborative learning. PAL is aimed to improve student performance and to develop a range of study skills through creating an informal environment for learning. This method has been applied across a range of disciplines and is becoming an important part in programmes' delivery. The carried out research had the following objectives: • to explore opportunities for fostering PAL in traditional classroom and in university practice to enhance students' performance. • to evaluate and compare the quality of students' experience of using PAL in both settings; • to analyse the challenges teachers face in implementing innovative approaches to teaching and learning in two different settings.

    MethodOur study was carried out in 2008. 31 A-level student studying Physics and 42 first year students on the 'Land Surveyors' undergraduate programme participated in this study. PAL sessions have been incorporated into the Physics subject and 'Core Mathematics' module delivery. The lectures were delivered in a traditional way; several PAL sessions were introduced during tutorials. The students worked in groups of five. A-level students were grouped according to their performance. The university students were randomly divided into groups. A peer tutor from the same student cohort was assigned to each group and trained. Peer tutors were selected from the more advanced students. The tutors decided themselves which teaching method they were going to use. The questionnaire was designed to evaluate the students' learning experience. In addition, the peer tutors were interviewed. The results of the survey were statistically analysed and compared with the previous test results.

    Expected OutcomesOur findings showed that all A-level students and over 60% of the students at University Vast evaluated PAL method as useful and valuable. The students highly rated collaboration with peers and commented that it was easier to ask questions, get support and explanation. Over 80% of A-level students and over 50% of university students felt that PAL stimulated their activity. They felt that they were more in control of their learning and found it more enjoyable. However, the university students, having experienced the use of problem based learning (PBL), rated PBL higher than PAL. Both student samples positively evaluated the peer tutors' performance. Our study showed that the number of students enrolled on the course, the choice of peer tutors and timing of the sessions are crucial for the successful implementation of PAL. The test results showed an improvement in student grades. The paper concludes with recommendations for fostering PAL.

    References1. Nilsson G. and Luchinskaya E. "Problem-based Learning and competence development: a Case Study of Teaching Mathematics to Computer Science Students", Journal of Research in Teacher Education, 2007, No 3. p 13-21. 2. Nilsson G. and Luchinskaya E, "Developing students' competences through problem based learning: a case study of delivering 'Decision Mathematics' module on Computer Science programme". Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Conference BERA 2008, Edinburgh, September, 2008 3. Luchinskaya E., Nilsson G. and Williams C., "Developing students' competences in the light of Bologna process: the responses from Sweden and Russia". Paper presented at the European Educational Research Conference, ECER 2008, Gothenburg, Sweden, September 2008. 4. Peer Assisted Learning, Topping, K. and Ehly, S. (Eds.), Lawrence Erlbaum, 1998 Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, Volume 12, Issue 2 June 2001 , pages 113 - 132 5. Peer Learning in Higher Education. Learning from & with each other. Boud D., Cohen R. and Sampson J.(Eds.) Kogan Page, 2001. 

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