Stimulating Techniques in Entry-level Mathematics (STEM) with the STACK computer aided assessment system

Lead name:
Chris Sangwin
Collaborating Institutions:
University of Manchester, University of Loughborough, University of Leicester
Funding call:
Programme contact:
National HE STEM Programme
All STEM subjects share a common core of knowledge and skills in entry level mathematics. This includes numeracy, algebra and linear algebra, trigonometry, geometry and single variable calculus. These topics lie within the core modules C1-C4 of GCE Advanced Level Mathematics, or equivalent qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate. Yet, with the decrease of emphasis on mathematics within the Science curriculum, and the modularization of A-level mathematics, there is ever more need to identify weakness in mathematical skills and support students to address any weaknesses.
Project Aims

The aim of the project is to stimulate and support the practice of techniques in entry level mathematics by building on existing best practice in diagnostic testing, and support materials.  We aim to release resources which enhance the mathematical competence and confidence of entry level students across all STEM disciplines.

Project Objectives

To take existing diagnostic resources and transfer these by developing and deploying tests for the STACK computer aided assessment system, and to transfer existing good practice in (i) diagnostic testing at the University of Manchester, and (ii) online support materials from MathCentre, University of Loughborough across all STEM subjects in the newly created College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham.  We will also transfer existing STACK questions to the University of Manchester.  In particular by supporting them with our existing question banks which cover C4 material, such as rational functions and the more advanced differentiation and integration techniques e.g. integration by parts and implicit differentiation. 

Project Outcomes

The outcomes will be

1. A taxonomy of core skills, each linked to questions in the STACK CAA system which tests this skill.
2. Question files for use with the STACK CAA system.  We anticipate between 30-50 question templates.
3. Software extensions to STACK which will automatically generate a user profile and recommendations to students to target their further work, with embedded links to online learning materials.
4. Working demonstrations on the existing server  which we will maintain for a period of two years after the end of this project.
5. A workshop session at the MSOR Network conference, Sept 2010, to disseminate the outcomes of this project. (Milestone 6)
6. Publication of the final report. (Milestone 7)


Contact Chris Sangwin