Can you get more than 100% in maths?

Andrew Rosenthal, School of Life Sciences and Doug Higgison, School of Technology

Within Life Sciences and Technology we run first year skills modules intended to provide a grounding in mathematical, data analysis and writing skills.  Many of our students struggled with mathematics prior to arriving at Brookes and course teams have been creative in finding ways to make the material both interesting, relevant and accessible.  While the authors arise from scientific and technological disciplines, we are aware of other (less obvious) subject areas such as Law, which often have professional needs for mathematical proficiency.

This paper describes an incentive scheme delivered through a Brookes Virtual section, which through practice based quizzes gives students a chance to hone their mathematical skills.  The incentive is two fold: we reward students financially to participate in our research, but we also offer additional marks if they participate in the online quizzes.

When the initial ability is analysed it shows a bimodal distribution. The higher scoring peak corresponds to the more able students who participate predominantly for the financial incentive.  Disregarding such students allows us to look at our target population, the less able students who without intervention are borderline on passing the skills modules. Involvement of this group of students with the quizzes shows clear improvement through the duration of the targeted modules.

Powerpoint presentation (598KB)