Executive Summary

This project is an intervention in the second year maths syllabus. Whereas first year maths deals with more concrete ideas and provides continuity for most students with the advanced level school syllabus, second year maths marks an important shift in academic register. Mathematical abstraction proves especially difficult for many students at this stage as it operates on a different level from the concrete maths they are used to. These workshops will be designed to help struggling students cope with this shift. It has been noted that in the past those students who struggle at this critical stage can progressively disengage from the degree course as a whole so it is important to explore new methods for engaging and re-engaging these students. Open studio spaces are ideal both academically for exploring abstraction and pedagogically for engaging different learning styles.

These workshops will be offered to all second year maths students with a cap of 100 places (4 individual workshops). Students who are struggling with abstraction will be especially encouraged to apply. We will also encourage applications from students who find abstraction particularly interesting and would like to explore the academic content in a new dimension.

As well as maths academics and OSL practitioners this project will involve PhD lead learners. These students will be involved at all stages from planning to facilitation to reporting on outcomes. They will also gain valuable experience teaching maths in an innovative fashion: a practice which they may wish to develop in new directions in future as the compatibility of maths and open spaces becomes more apparent.

IATL spaces will be used to run these workshops. IATL will provide at least one OSL practitioner (perhaps 2 so that we can run parallel sessions). IATL will also be engaged with a final report into the further uses of OSL.