Working Out Loud:

Elizabeth Petrie

Trying to successfully teach a maths component of a MSc module where students range in experience from ‘vaguely remember GCSE topics’ to ‘just graduated with a maths or statistics degree’….

I am a very recent convert to the idea of making my own contribution to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL); since September I have been trying to put together a case study article on my developing strategies and methods over 5 years for teaching maths to a group of people with widely varying mathematical skills and experience.

First of all, I spent time reading similar articles–while I have previously written several scientific articles, a case study is completely different! I still feel a bit out of my depth there, but I’m lucky that I have more experienced people here at Glasgow who have offered to have a look at my first draft when it is ready. While I have been interested in issues around teaching maths effectively for some time, I often find searching the educational literature on a new topic very difficult, as I find it really hard to guess the appropriate keywords/terminology.

In this case, ‘split ability’ and ‘mixed ability’ seems to bring up articles primarily about whether to split students in a year group into sets which doesn’t really match my class mix. Some are interesting if only partially relevant e.g. this article on learner attitudes: Tereshchenko et al. 2018, and I have been aware of Jo Boaler’s articles for some time, like this one–they helped guide my thoughts on class design. At a recent SoTL meeting where time was made for small group discussion someone suggested literature on language classes to me.

That is just beginning to show some relevant material. However, I keep feeling that with all the articles out there, and all the science MSc programmes out there, someone must have written something on a similar situation–I just haven’t found it yet. I feel like I have a long way to go to be able to write a proper literature section for the article, especially as that is only one of the components needed. I’m also writing about maths e-assessment using NUMBAS, and peer learning in groups. Connecting with people interested in SoTL is definitely helpful, and I have also been introduced to the #LTHEchat tweetchats, which are often really interesting. I look forward to building more connections. So–a snapshot of my reflections on my (very short) SoTL journey!

Best wishes to anyone reading, wherever you are along your path.

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