Degree of difficulty

6th July 2007 at 01:00
Maths experts met at St Andrews Univer-sity last week to tackle the growing problem of students who struggle with the mathematical component of their degree subject.

The trend, which is affecting students across the UK, has a variety of causes.

Christie Marr, head of the Mathematics Support Centre at the university, explained that even students heading for a first may need clarification on a particular topic or application. "We can't assume a level playing field when it comes to mathematical background," she said. "Students arrive at university having followed different syllabuses and often different educational systems. Additionally, in the sciences, some students may enter directly into second year."

Forty delegates from higher education institutions considered:

* Existing models for providing maths support, including large and small drop in centres, an appointment-based system, and a maths cafe.

* Existing resources, commercial and freely available, including material produced by mathcentre, mathtutormechanicstutor, mathletics and Mathematics for Economics-Enhancing Teaching and Learning.

* Subject-specific issues within biology, chemistry, economics, medical sciences, nursing physics and psychology.

* Employability, retention, and the student's learning experience.

The conference was sponsored by the Maths, Stats and Operational Research subject centre of the Higher Education Academy, and by the Wilkinson Charitable Trust.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today