MSLC staff make contributions to the Australian mathematics and statistics education landscape through the scholarship of teaching and learning.
The MSLC runs an Occasional Seminar Series, which incorporates talks by MSLC and School staff as well as invited external speakers. If you are interested in giving a talk as part of this Series, please contact Dr Anthony Morphett, firstname.lastname@example.org. For seminar announcements, subscribe to the mailing list here.
Investigating the use of electronic whiteboards in small-group classes for teaching statistics
Dr Christopher Duffy, Dr Paul Fijn, and Dr Robert Maillardet
This research aims to understand how to use electronic whiteboards effectively for small-group teaching in statistics subjects. This will be considered by evaluating the extent to which they improve student self-efficacy (attitude and confidence with statistics), foster student engagement, and increase student knowledge of statistics.
Evaluating student engagement with and perceptions of a flipped classroom design for a large statistics subject
Dr Paul Fijn and Dr Alba Santin Garcia
This research is investigating a class taught with a “flipped classroom” design, with main lecture content delivered outside of class (primarily videos) and a heavy focus on interactive and exploratory tasks within the classroom. The focus is on evaluating which modes and tasks students engage with most, and how that translates into effective learning outcomes.
Understanding different conceptualisations of mathematical communication from the first year undergraduate perspective
Dr Alba Santin Garcia and Dr TriThang Tran
This research aims to understand the different ways in which first year mathematics students experience communication in mathematics. To achieve this, we will interview first year mathematics students from a range of different subjects. The results of the study are intended to inform approaches to improving mathematical communication in our first-year classes.
Learning in Circles (LINC)
Dr Christine Mangelsdorf, Dr Anthony Morphett, Prof Antoinette Tordesillas, Dr TriThang Tran and Dr Binzhou Xia
This research investigates whether studying a real-world application of calculus embedded throughout the semester affects how students see relationships between different mathematical topics in MAST10006 Calculus 2.
Next Generation Tutorial Room Development
In 2021, the Faculty of Science, on behalf of the School of Mathematics and Statistics, invested $180,000 in the creation of two pilot Next Generation tutorial rooms, each equipped with six large-screen interactive whiteboard devices. These devices permit students to undertake integrated and seamless workflow between written and computer work, overcoming the artificial separation between computer work in labs and tutorial work in a smallgroup learning setting. In 2022, subject development to make use of these upgraded spaces took place in MAST10006 (Calculus 2), MAST10022 (Linear Algebra: Advanced) and MAST10010 (Data Analysis 1). In 2023, further work is planned for MAST10006 (Calculus 2), MAST10010 (Data Analysis 1) and MAST20005 (Statistics). Subject development work on this project to date has been undertaken by a number of MSLC staff in 2022: Dr Alegra Dajic, Dr Paul Fijn, Dr Shelly Levin, Mr Matthew Mack, Dr Anthony Morphett, Dr Robert Maillardet, Dr TriThang Tran, and Dr Paul Williams. Development work has also been undertaken by Dr Lawrence Reeves.
Strengthening Learning in Mathematics and Statistics using Video Consultations
Project Lead: Dr Rob Maillardet
Video Consultations emulate, in a purely online form, the teaching and learning collaborations that occur in one-onone live consultations with students. They have been successfully used in Mathematics and Statistics. To date students have completed over 10,600 Video Consultation sessions lasting in total approximately 7,000 hours. Video consultations are over an order of magnitude cheaper per study hour than live consultations, a cost which reduces over time given their longevity. This project established a dedicated School recording studio and funded selected talented research students and sessional teaching staff to prepare and implement high quality new Consultations across 13 subjects with enrolments of approximately 9400, thus doubling the School’s resource pool of Video Consultations.
WebWork Resources for MAST10006
Project Lead: Dr TriThang Tran
WebWork is an online homework system, designed with the needs of mathematics subjects. This project’s goals are to develop WebWork modules that supplement the lecture content, in a way the allows lecturers to focus more on mathematical communication. The modules can be completed asynchronously. In practical terms, we are developing online, self-guided WebWork problems, which students will be directed to complete prior, or after a lecture, depending on the problem. Generally, the problems are short, simple, and target basic skills and misconceptions in the subject. Students typically only learn good mathematical writing in tandem with learning new mathematical concepts. The redesign would mean lectures can draw on the developed online resources as inspiration for discussion on writing and presentation. Moreover, by moving more routine problems out of the lectures, this frees up some lecture time for lecturers to use to discuss and target aspects of communication. For example, a student might see limit calculations in a WebWork module, that primes them for discussion in lectures about the importance of the justifications required in steps of the calculation. The project has the added benefit of allowing students to practise using WebWork, prior to needing to use it for assignments. This aims to reduce the number of technical issues that arise during assignments.
Project Lead: Dr Rob Maillardet
Technical lead: Keenan Hellyer (Biosciences)
A lightboard supports video recording whilst facing the audience and writing on a glass board filled with light. This project established two Lightboard Studios (in Peter Hall and Old Geology North) which are fully automated one-touch installations for staff use without professional support. Custom software was also developed from scratch to support three recording modes: lightboard only, lightboard with overlays, and lightboard with overlays plus a separate second video stream.
Flipped Classroom Resources for Real Analysis (MAST20026)
Project Lead: Dr Christopher Duffy
The dual-delivery nature of 2022 provided an opportunity to develop subject materials that give students greater agency in how they work through subject material. Work in this project built upon a set of notes first created in 2021. The final output of this project is a full set of flipped classroom materials (readings and lecture plans) for lecturers delivering an introductory subject in real analysis.
Student Maths and Stats Help (SMASH)
Project Leads: Dr Anthony Morphett, Prof Deb King and Ms Adriana Zanca
The Student Maths And Stats Help (SMASH) maths skills drop-in service provided support for students from across the university to get help with numeracy and quantitative skills needed for their studies. It helped students improve their mathematical skills, develop basic quantitative and statistical reasoning skills and address gaps or weaknesses in their mathematical knowledge. Support was provided by students employed as peer leaders. SMASH was staffed and managed by students, with students-as-partners in the delivery and management of the programme. SMASH ran from 2017-2022, two years longer than originally budgeted due to running under budget over the first three years of operation.
MAST90045 Lab Class Development
Project Lead: Dr Yuji Saikai
The project was intended to trial real-time collaborative coding exercises using CoCalc, a web-based computing facility, in MAST90045. Learning to code, just like learning mathematics, inherently requires individual exercises, for which the existing computer laboratory classes are designed. The downside is difficulty in sharing and discussing individual attempts. In a physical laboratory, students sitting next to each other may glance at others’ work but not work of those sitting apart. It is even more difficult for remote students. CoCalc provides web-based coding environment in which multiple people can work simultaneously and share their code as well as outputs real-time. The use of such environment can mitigate the solitary nature of coding exercises and enhance the advantage of small classes—participatory discussion. The benefit is even greater for remote students. In addition to the positive feedback through the SSLC survey, throughout the semester, the instructors and students had lively coding practices, which otherwise would have been difficult to achieve. Since the result was very positive, CoCalc will be employed in 2023 again for further development.
MAST10007 Lab Class Development
Project Leads: James Clift and Nick Sgro-Traikowski
Support and supervision: Dr Christine Mangelsdorf
Many of the MAST10007 Linear Algebra computer lab class activities had not been updated for many years, and student feedback indicated that some of the activities were repetitive and did not engage students. James Clift and Nick Sgro-Traikowski redeveloped several of the MAST10007 computer lab activities over semester 2, 2022. They wrote several new computer lab activities and substantially updated several others. They focussed on incorporating interactivity and visualisation into the computer lab activities, which they achieved by creating several new interactive applets using GeoGebra and MATLAB. Student feedback about the new computer lab activities was positive, and increased class attendance indicates that the activities were successful in improving student engagement in the computer lab classes.
Selected presentations by MSLC staff
Chris Duffy (2023) Welcoming Students to the Community of Mathematicians, First Year in Mathematics Network Annual Workshop, University of Queensland
Chris Duffy, Ashlee Pearson, Valerie Cotronei-Baird, Gab Corbo-Perkin (2023) Tutor and demonstrator professional development - Lessons from across the university, University of Melbourne Learning and Teaching Conference
Chris Duffy and Paul Fijn (2022) Next Generation Tutorial Spaces, Faculty of Science Learning and Teaching Gathering
Paul Fijn, Cindy Huang, Susan James and Dominic Maderazo (2022) Engagement Beyond the Curriculum, Mathematical Association of Western Australia (MAWA) Annual Conference
Alba Santin Garcia (2022) Whiteboard tutorials @ Melbourne Uni, Maths and Stats Teaching Seminar, University of Technology Sydney
Anthony Morphett (2022) Exploring infectious disease models with handshakes, Mathematical Association of Victoria (MAV) Annual Conference
John Banks, Paul Fijn, Robert Maillardet, Anthony Morphett, Rosie Pingitore, Alba Santin Garcia, TriThang Tran (2021) Active learning groupwork based online tutorials, Herenga Delta 2021: The 13th Southern Hemisphere Conference on the Teaching and Learning of Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics