O-Week is a busy, fun time for most first-year students and those in the Business School are no exception. However, some students made time to attend a series of four Maths Essentials Workshops, part of a new initiative that I’m running. The workshops are part of the academic skills development offered to students by the Business School’s Innovative Learning and Teaching team, in conjunction with Economics, Statistics and Accounting, and Finance. The goal? To ensure attending students develop a firm foundation in the mathematical thinking essential to success in core BCom courses.
When I initially offered the workshops, spaces filled quickly. This indicated that students thought the workshops filled an important gap in support. Then, during the first workshop, I was able to get a clearer idea of the students’ specific numeracy levels and could see the level of support being offered was on the right track. Attending students had typically either taken a gap year between finishing their secondary education and embarking on tertiary education or had not gained any NCEA credits in Level 3 Statistics or Calculus. Everyone needed to refresh and develop their skills in some basic areas.
To address the students’ needs, my teaching approach was based around a number of collaborative group activities, as working and talking together promotes deeper understanding and learning. I also encouraged the use of learning technologies such as Desmos, which students accessed using mobile devices. This particular technology allowed the students to explore maths concepts individually in the classroom. The immediate feedback on graphing and functions supported their new learning.
By the end of the week, students showed significant improvement in both confidence and skills. Some feedback included:
“I would recommend that [other students] attend the workshops especially if they’re not confident with their math skills!”
“The informal manner of [the workshops], created an atmosphere that I feel made everyone feel less nervous and be more
prone to asking for help or questions”
“Got to meet a lot of lovely people and learn the essentials before Uni officially started! Became familiar with some really good tools such as Desmos”Students who missed out on attending these initial workshops will be offered a similar programme over the coming weeks as part of the weekly workshops run by the Academic Skills Team. The Maths Essentials for Business workshop series will be offered in its entirety again toward the beginning of semester two.
Julia Crawford is a Professional Teaching Fellow – Numeracy Skills Specialist in the ILT Academic Skills Team at the University of Auckland Business School. She has a Masters in mathematics education and has a background in teaching mathematics at secondary school level and in teacher education. Her work at the Business School is focussed on inspiring best teaching practice to support learners overcome barriers to their learning of mathematical and statistical concepts.