The following post is from Steffi Zegowitz, who has been a BILT Associate since September 2018.
I have been a Senior Teaching Associate at the School of Mathematics since 2016. I currently teach `Introductions to Proofs’ (formerly known as Foundations and Proof), a large first year undergraduate course in pure mathematics. When I first taught Foundations and Proof in 2016, I realised that students often struggle with the transition from A Level mathematics to university level pure mathematics. I have found technology to be a valuable tool in aiding with this transition, so my work with BILT focuses on using technology in teaching.
In mathematics, students learn by doing, so the more familiar students become with mathematical definitions and the mathematical language, the easier that transition becomes. While in my first year of teaching Foundations and Proof, students were purely assessed via an exam, in my second year of teaching in 2017, I successfully introduced online quizzes as a second form of assessment. Being assessed, these quizzes `force’ students to engage with the lecture material early on, making them more familiar with mathematical definitions and the mathematical language. Feedback to these quizzes has been positive. As a matter of fact, they are now being adopted by the vast majority of first year undergraduate mathematics courses. So my first project with BILT focuses on evaluating the use of online quizzes as a form of assessment in pure mathematics.
Another way of easing that transition is to engage students via interactive lessons. Interaction is not necessarily an easily achievable task, especially when it comes to teaching a large group of students, such as in Foundations and Proof. This is where audience response systems prove to be a useful teaching tool since it actively engages students with the course material. Since the voting system is anonymous, it encourages interaction – students who may otherwise be afraid to speak out in front of their peers are more motivated to interact anonymously. This in turn engages them with the course material, which in turn may ease that transition. So for my second project with BILT, I would like to evaluate the use of the Audience Response System PollEverywhere as a form of engagement, specifically in large group teaching of mathematics.