Experiences of Mathematics and Statistics Learning Support during semester 1 (2022-23)


On Friday January 13th the IMLSN held the online workshop ‘Experiences of Mathematics and Statistics Learning Support during semester 1 (2022-23)’. Following the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, this was a critical semester for engagement with maths and stats supports, now that almost all students are back on-campus. 

The workshop featured 11 five-minute talks from practitioners across Ireland, followed by four breakout room discussions which allowed other attendees, including many from around the UK, to discuss the presentations and add their own experiences.  In summary, nine of the 11 institutions were offering both in-person and online supports for students. One provided online only, and one in-person only due to a combination of staff shortages and a university governance emphasis that teaching/support be mostly face-to-face.

A broad range of online initiatives were implemented including student support hubs and suites of on-demand support materials on Virtual Learning Environments. Booking systems, 1-1 and small group appointments, workshops, and drop-in sessions were also used. Participants discussed the flexibility that online support allowed both students and tutors, especially in relation to remote teaching and learning, lack of office space, the facilitation of reduced transport and accommodation costs. The opportunities that new media provides for assisting students with learning disabilities was also raised.

In general, participants reported mixed take up of hybrid support now on offer. Online support session attendance was not high except, in some instances, during examination periods. There was also an issue with students not attending booked 1-1 sessions. However, in-person support attendance increased when compared to 2021-22, and certain institutions witnessed increased engagement from first- and final-year students. Some workshop attendees expressed surprise at the ‘rapid student return to in-person over online supports’. Finally, participants reported that students required much more individual attention than before COVID-19, with increased inability to progress the problem after support from the tutor.