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Does the MLC actually work? The research findings.

The widely publicised ‘mathematics problem’ shows that the level of mathematics of students beginning higher education has been declining for many years. A study in Ireland conducted by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) found that “mathematics is the strongest predictor of successful progression among higher education students” (HEA, 2010, p. 28). In light of these issues, the necessity of appropriate and effective mathematics support is vital. 85% of third-level institutions (e.g. universities, institutes of technology) currently offer some form of mathematics support (Mac an Bhaird and Lawson, 2012).

The MLC at UL has been a highly valued maths support service for UL students for many years, with 38,644 student attendances at MLC services over the past 5 academic years. A large scale study of higher education students in Ireland (which included 263 respondents from UL) showed that students were very positive about the help that they received from their maths support centres in relation to the impact of mathematics support on helping them to stay in their course, on their mathematical confidence, on their examination performance and on their overall ability to cope with the mathematical demands they face (Ní Fhloinn, Fitzmaurice, Mac an Bhaird and O’Sullivan, 2014). Research has also shown that students who used an MLC service only once were 1.63 times more likely to pass their examinations compared to students who did not attend at all, while students who attended on 15 occasions or more were 14 times more likely to pass (Jacob and Ní Fhloinn, 2018). In our own MLC’s (at UL) anonymous surveys (124 respondents) in semester 1 of 2018/19, 117 UL students agreed/strongly agreed that the MLC would contribute to a better grade for them with the remaining 7 stating that they were ‘neutral’.

We hope that these findings inspire our students to make use of the free maths help that is on your doorstep. Remember, it does not matter to our tutors if you think that you are not good at maths, we just want to get you moving in the right direction with your studies.

References:

Higher Education Authority (2010). A study of progression in Irish higher education. [Online] Available from http://hea.ie/assets/uploads/2017/06/A-Study-of-Progression-in-Higher-Education.pdf

Mac an Bhaird C, Lawson D. (2012) sigma Guide: How to set up a mathematics and statistics support provision. Coventry: Coventry University. [online] Available from: http://www.mathcentre.ac.uk/resources/uploaded/51691-how-to-set-upfinal.pdf.

Ní Fhloinn, E., Fitzmaurice, O., Mac an Bhaird, C. & O’Sullivan, C. (2014) Student perception of the impact of mathematics support in higher education, International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 45(7), 953-967.

Ní Shé, C., Mac an Bhaird, C., Ní Fhloinn, E. and O’Shea, A. (2017) ‘Students’ and lecturers’ views on mathematics resources’, Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, 36(4), 183-199.

Jacob, M. and Ní Fhloinn, E. (2018) A quantitative, longitudinal analysis of the impact of mathematics support in an Irish university, Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, https://doi.org/10.1093/teamat/hry012