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Title: Bite Size Maths: Building Mathematics Low Socioeconomic Student Capability in Regional/Remote Australia
Contributor(s): Woolcott, Geoff (author); Mason, Raina (author); Markopoulos, Christos (author); Boyd, William (author); Chen, Ouhao (author); Seton, Carolyn (author); Lake, Warren (author); Whannell, Robert  (author)orcid ; Foster, Alan (author); Galligan, Linda (author); Marshman, Margaret (author); Schmalz, Jelena  (author); Sultanova, Nargiz (author)
Corporate Author: Australian Government Department of Education and Training
Publication Date: 2017-01-31
Open Access: Yes
DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.6983945.v1
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Abstract: The project, Bite size maths: Building mathematics low socioeconomic student capability in regional/remote Australia, establishes the foundations for a change in the way that online education is offered to low socioeconomic students in regional/remote Australia. The Bite size maths project is a $140,000 project funded in 2016 through the Department of Education and Training (DET) as part of the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme (HEPPP) 2015 National Priorities Pool. The Bite size maths project has delivered an innovative set of interactive modules (as an online learning system) that can be used singly or linked together in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC— The 20 interactive modules developed within the project provide a foundation for improvements in mathematics education across the higher education sector as well as throughout the school system in regional/remote Australia. The use of self-paced learning in the form of guided instruction and opportunities for practice have the potential to profoundly impact on the learning experiences of undergraduate students who have little or no experience in mathematics. Mathematics forms the core of multiple course structures at universities, and previous research emphasises the importance of engaging undergraduate students in building a strong mathematics foundation. This is particularly the case in regional/remote Australia where universities, like those in the Regional Universities Network (RUN), focus particularly on professional careers, such as education and health care, that require mathematical competencies. Contemporary students need to be both proficient in and comfortable with mathematics, so as to bridge the gap between curriculum and understanding the mathematics that is required in such careers. The Bite size maths project showed, for the first time, that a MOOC can be designed on the basis of studies of human cognitive architecture, in this case the principles and effects of cognitive load theory. Development and trials of five modules demonstrated that the combination of worked examples and practice questions (the worked example effect in cognitive load theory) makes a significant difference to test results of students who have little experience in mathematics. After the initial trials, a MOOC (comprised of 20 interactive modules) was built incorporating a number of improvements and innovations. These included other cognitive load effects, as well as point-of-contact feedback. This is the first time that point-of-contact feedback developed at SCU has been used as part of a MOOC. This feedback serves to let students know about their learning approaches, provides guidance on appropriate learning styles, and allows feedback from the students on how well the MOOC facilitated their learning. The end result is a set of integrated resources that can be embedded in undergraduate mathematics units as interactive modules or as a MOOC. The interactive modules in the MOOC offer course-based resources that are designed to allow students to tackle ‘bite-size chunks’ of the coursework mathematics in which they must develop expertise. The MOOC offers a self-paced introduction to key features of undergraduate mathematics, and is adaptive in that it also offers continual graded assessment and point-of-contact feedback. The content of the modules is based on the literature, as well as on a dedicat students. Many of these students have had less experience in mathematics than their urban counterparts. Furthermore, there is a broad range of mathematical capabilities within this group. As one of the 21 projects funded under the HEPPP 2015 National Priorities Pool, Bite size maths addresses the HEPPP Priority Funding Area, “More effective programme implementation”. The Bite size maths project facilitates more equitable and effective program delivery via a mathematics intervention resource that caters for the wide range of student abilities and economic circumstances evident in the education sector in regional/remote areas. In so doing, the Bite size maths project targets low socioeconomic students who are at particular disadvantage, and provides modules that build student expertise and confidence. Commonwealth and State governments, via the National STEM School Education Strategy (Education Council, 2015) have mandated increased emphasis on science and mathematics in pre-service teaching and increased rigour of pre-service courses. This project will assist not only education students, but also those in other courses that require mathematics skills. It provides higher education teachers, senior managers and policy advisors with a tested approach to support significant long-term improvements in the quality of mathematics learning in universities. Importantly, the Bite size maths project offers: • A new vision of the way that mathematics can be learned in online settings and how this can be integrated in the preparation of graduates with mathematics capabilities suited to their professions, and • A mechanism for university teachers to grow the mathematics capability of their students. Successful take-up of the interactive modules or the MOOC requires: • Leadership, clarity of purpose and influence whereby the Bite size maths partners champion the mathematics MOOC at regional and national levels • Strong collaborative relationships between RUN partners to be nurtured and strengthened • Planning for 2017 trials and subsequent roll-out of the interactive modules or the MOOC • Communication about the resource to mathematics students at risk of failure, university mathematics teachers, staff in other disciplines, senior management teams at tertiary institutions, educational policy makers and other senior government strategists • Review of institutional protocols around enrolment, pre-requisites, course accreditation and assessment in order to successfully embed the interactive modules and the MOOC • Resourcing for trials, development and embedding of the interactive modules in mathematics units • Mentoring mechanisms such as workshops for university educators and a website for feedback/support, and • Promotion of the modules and the MOOC by the Department of Education and Training as a means of improving the mathematical capabilities of low socioeconomic or otherwise disadvantaged students at regional/rural universities. This report presents the four main components of the project: • Reviewing undergraduate mathematics in regional/rural Australia (identification of at- risk students, overview of intervention processes and identification of major issues) • Developing and trialling of five online learning system modules • Developing 20 interactive modules that comprise the MOOC, using feedback from the trial • Reporting on the potential of the MOOC as a resource for use in the university sector.
Publication Type: Report
Publisher: Australian Government Department of Education and Training
Place of Publication: Canberra, Australia
Field of Research (FoR) 2008: 130208 Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 930102 Learner and Learning Processes
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: R1 Report
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Extent of Pages: 63
CC License of All Rights Reserved:
Appears in Collections:Report
School of Education
School of Science and Technology

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