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  5. Effective support for reflective writing: learning from improvers

Effective support for reflective writing: learning from improvers

Project leader(s): 
Cathy Smith and Charlotte Webb

Mathematics Education modules involve reflective writing, a form that applies academic analysis to personal practice and is common in professional disciplines. Students entering our level 3 modules, many with mathematical rather than social science backgrounds, need to develop these ways of thinking and writing to succeed.

The aim of this project is to identify, through the use of semi‐structured interviews, the resources and approaches used by Mathematics Education ‘improvers’: students who have made consistent or significant progress over the series of reflective assignments, identified using assessment and demographic data from four Maths Ed modules. By capturing and documenting themes and practices identified as assisting students’ progress, we will use these insights in planning support for modules in production.

Analysis for a prior cohort (without demographics) found 25% of students met our criteria as improvers, suggesting 115 potential interviewees in 20D/20J. Invitations will be issued in batches, aiming for 12 interviews total, and with the initial goal of recruiting improvers belonging to groups with a performance gap in recent presentations, i.e. for Black students (2% of 20D/20J cohort), Asian students (12%), students with less than 2 A-levels (18%), and students with low SES (11%).  Our assumption is not of deficit in these groups, but of learning from students who have themselves been successful learners. 

We are interested in: whether and how improvers on ME620 have used recently-added module activities focused on reflective writing; whether and how improvers in all modules use the feedback from TMAs to inform future assignments; what improvers themselves identify as barriers and support for reflective writing. This is a timely moment to affect the details of tutorial content and assessment design in new modules where the team has already sought to diversify the ways in which students can demonstrate the learning outcomes.

Cathy Smith and Charlotte Webb poster (PPTX)