Studying some level of mathematics at third level is becoming the norm, as large numbers of students undertake STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) courses, and many other students find mathematics to be an integral component of an increasing number of third level programmes, such as economics, geography and product design.
Established in October 2007 to support students with mathematics, Maynooth University Maths Support Centre (MSC) today provides 29 hours of dedicated mathematical learning support to Maynooth students on a drop-in basis, free of charge. The Centre also provides up to five on-demand workshops and a weekly drop-in session for second level students. Today, the MSC has registered almost 140,000 student visits.
Dr Ciarán Mac an Bhaird, Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Director of the MSC, said: “More students in Ireland each year are taking courses involving mathematics, so it’s critical that we give them the opportunity to succeed and progress in mathematics. Students should be aware that it is common in mathematics to get things wrong, but it is how you react to this that makes all the difference, and this is one of the areas where mathematical learning support is making a difference. The key advantage of taking mathematics is that it develops our thinking and problem-solving skills, which are applicable in all walks of life.”
Caroline Leach, second year BA Maths and Irish student, said: “The Maths Support Centre has helped me gain a lot of confidence in my maths ability, particularly when I get those tough assignments.”
A 2014 report (available here) indicates that services like the MSC at Maynooth University are a key element in third level retention of students in STEM courses.
Dr Mac an Bhaird, co-author of the report, said: “Mathematics Learning Support is a critical part of the transition infrastructure from second level to third level. Students are telling us that this support has a positive effect in them succeeding in their chosen course. It is having a major impact in their performance and progress as it enhances and enriches their learning experience.”