Building on the Maths Arcade: supporting mathematics learning
The Maths Arcade aims to stretch our most able students and those who have more prior mathematical knowledge, whilst at the same time support those with weaker backgrounds or who take a little longer to grasp the mathematical concepts we teach.
Students are reluctant to attend 'help sessions', since there is a student perception that these are for weaker students. The Maths Arcade provides a venue for mathematical talk, games and problem-solving, with a range of strategy board games and puzzles available which are designed to hone and develop strategic thinking. This also aims to encourage staff/student interaction, with academic staff attending and students getting help with tutorial work from peers or staff.
This project will extend and increase the Maths Arcade provision. The increased provision will particularly take the provision beyond transition support and social interaction to encourage the students more explicitly to engage with analysing the games mathematically.
To provide a bigger range of games and puzzles, and to open to cafe to students in other disciplines, thus supporting mathematics across the University.
In co-operation with the School of Engineering, to stimulate similar Maths Arcade activities on that campus for Science and Engineering students.
To use the facilities to support outreach efforts such as school masterclasses and taster days.
To train staff and postgraduate students to use these props in outreach activities and to allow us to extend the current Maths Arcade opening hours.
To evaluate the provision and provide guidance on setting up and running a Maths Arcade.
A guide to setting up and running a Maths Arcade. This will include a list of suitable resources and commentary on their effectivensss, together with a collection of the weekly puzzles which provide the Arcade's focus.
Lessons are likely to focus on how successfully students were attracted to the Arcade.
Initial indications are that it is attractive to many different categories of students, including the strongest in the class and those whose non-trditional backgrounds may limit thier confidence in their mathematical ability, but strategies may be required to target some "at-risk" students.
Making available information on this novel approach will enable its uptake elsewhere. The Maths Arcade can provide an enhanced learning experience for students, leading to improved retention and better achievement. By promoting peer support and encouraging students to talk and think about mathematics outside the classroom the project will help students gain confidence in their mathematical ability and address the fear of mathematics felt by many such students.