SYMBoL: making 2nd year maths more engaging

SYMBoL Student InternsAs part of the SYMBoL project (Second Year Mathematics Beyond Lectures), four mathematics undergraduate students have been working this summer as interns on a six-week placement. Naomi, Robert, John and Matthew conducted several focus groups with second year undergraduates to find ways of making student learning more effective and their modules more engaging.

The long-term goal of the project is to produce well-qualified mathematics graduates who report a positive experience of
studying mathematics. This will be accomplished through innovations to the second year experience that improve engagement, enthusiasm and satisfaction. The pedagogical changes will be within two key modules: Vector Spaces and Complex Variables delivered in 2011/12.

Working very closely with staff, the interns are reworking lecture notes, advising on sections where the clarity might be improved, and producing additional resources. These include video screencasts (recorded and edited using Camtasia) that illustrate step-by-step solutions to second-year mathematics problems that students find particularly difficult. In addition they are developing resources and activities to be used in peer-led problem sessions in the coming year.

Calculating a Laurent series
This screenshot is taken from a narrated Camtasia sequence to be used in the Complex Variables module. The sequence provides step-by-step support on calculating a Laurent series.

For more information, contact Tony Croft (a.c.croft [at] lboro.ac.uk) or Steven Kenny (s.d.kenny [at] lboro.ac.uk).

The project website is at http://sym.lboro.ac.uk .