A proactive intervention to facilitate transition to HE for engineering students with non-typical mathematical backgrounds

Lead name:
Stephen Hibberd
Collaborating Institutions:
Loughborough University
Funding call:
Programme contact:
National HE STEM Programme
At Nottingham there is currently engineering mathematics provision for ~40 students separate from that for the ~550 ‘typical’ intake students with a ‘recent GCE A-level mathematics’. Progression, mathematical confidence, motivation and engagement of this smaller but diverse cohort are disappointing. This observation accords with emerging research (sigma-CETL) for separated cohorts. A single provision is however only realisable if specialist support for ‘non-typical’ students is effective. Pedagogic research addressing support, student engagement and resources has been reported in successive IMA–MEE and CETL-MSOR Conferences. The proposal is to embed research outcomes to enhance curriculum augmentation to assure positive common outcomes from a single core provision through appropriate integrated support, and to monitor and disseminate outcomes widely. The target students will include those deemed ‘at risk’ of failing in the transition to HE and those associated with WP initiatives with the aim of further improving retention. The resulting effective system of support will help engineering courses admit suitable ‘non-typical’ (e.g., diploma) students without recourse to a Foundation Year. Support will be developed using selected and specifically trained postgraduate student teachers (PSTs), who will benefit from extended opportunities to enhance their skills.
Project Aims

To develop an enhanced engineering mathematics environment to enable students at Nottingham with non-typical entry qualifications in mathematics to develop confidence and to attain competence in mathematics in the context of their engineering degree studies.

Project Objectives

i.  Obtain feedback from students on current provision.

ii. Identify the needs of the most common non-typical groups, e.g., year(s) out, Diploma, Baccalaureate.

iii. Devise a revised curriculum map for common mathematics modules (both Autumn and Spring Semesters).

iv. Develop a programme of intervention by drawing from evidence-based practice and from the first-hand experience of project proposers.


Project Outputs

Interim and final reports

Dissemination within the Faculty of Engineering, Nottingham

Dissemination with HE STEM partners

Conference papers

Project Outcomes
  • To better enable students from less-traditional entry routes to cope with the rigours of a demanding engineering programme as offered at Nottingham.
  • To engage with other HEIs in the development of more flexible and targeted strategies to support students in engaging with engineering mathematics.
  • To network with core National HE STEM Programme Partners:
  • IMA – sigma Midland Hub ( student support)

    Royal Academy of Engineering

    HE STEM - Midlands and East Anglia Spoke

Latest updates

This project has now been adopted by a number of institutions.

Please see

Alex Fenlon 13.07.2012

Contact Stephen Hibberd