Deakin’s Foundation Maths Program
How do you support students to develop the skills they’ll need to thrive in a maths related course? We spoke to Tom Petsinis, Maths and Numeracy Adviser, Peer Support Programs, about how Deakin’s Foundation Maths Program is helping to prepare students who are entering courses that involve mathematics and statistics.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m in Student Academic and Peer Support Services, which is part of the Office of the Dean of Students in the Academic Portfolio. I’ve been at Deakin for four years. Prior to this role, I was at Victoria University as a mathematics lecturer in the engineering area. I’ve always been a maths person!
I’m also a novelist, a playwright and a poet. I enjoy combining literature and mathematics, like in my novel The French Mathematician (Penguin Books) and in my forthcoming collection of poems all based on mathematics. I’ve always sought to span the divide between the sciences and the humanities, and to promote mathematics through the vehicle of literature.
What is the Foundation Maths Program?
The Foundation Maths Program aims to support students who need to brush up on key elements of mathematics. It is designed to accommodate a range of students, from those who are returning to study after a long break, to those who want to revise and refresh essential concepts. It is also useful to underpin the learning of students who are moving into courses without strict maths prerequisites.
We have developed a suite of modules (Numeracy, Basic Statistics, Algebra 1) in order to cater for these students, so they are better prepared for units involving the fundamentals of maths. The modules also provide some resources that could be used throughout the trimester. The modules can be worked through sequentially section by section from beginning to end or dipped into as needed.
How did the Maths Foundation Program come together?
The program utilises a very collaborative approach. We work with Deakin’s Students as Partners initiative – a program in which students work in partnership with academics and professionals to develop teaching and learning resources. In our case the student partners are involved in the design of the module, sourcing and developing content, and in reviewing the final product. We’ve also contacted lecturers and unit chairs to share their views on what should be included in each module and to provide feedback on the finished product
Some student-partners are from a non-maths background which provides a different perspective in developing the modules. This helps to make them more accessible to a broader range of students.
The modules have also been designed using the CloudFirst framework and Equity principles.
Has there been any feedback from students on the program?
Each module has a discussion board where we invite students to comment and interact with one another to encourage social learning. By and large there’s been positive feedback and the program has been embraced by the student community. As of early June, the modules have had just over 300 online visits.
What are the next steps?
We have just started developing the next Student as Partners module covering Geometry and Trigonometry. Again, the content of this is based on feedback from lecturers, unit chairs, and information from the Maths Mentors drop-in program. Beyond this, we will develop Algebra 2, with both modules to be completed and made available to students before the end of the year.
Where can staff go to learn more?
Deakin staff can self-register on Cloud Deakin at access the Foundation Maths Program.
Students can self-register through the Maths Support Resource Centre, or unit chairs can choose to bulk register their students, giving them immediate access to the program.