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Welcome to LCT3!

Programme Updates
Friday - 11.35: session 20 – Mathew Toll & Shi Chunxu is back on, in B48, replacing Sha Xie.

Friday
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Tuesday, July 2 • 11:45am - 12:25pm
Supporting the transition from first to second year mathematics using LCT

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This paper uses tools from the Semantics dimension of LCT to examine students’ experiences of the transition from first year to second year mathematics, and then reports on an educational intervention aimed at addressing students’ difficulties with this transition. Internationally, the transition from first year to second year is noted as a challenge for many students in undergraduate programmes around the world (see, for example, Hunter et al, 2010; Yorke, 2015). Despite this, there is a paucity of research on the transition to second year, with most studies focused on students’ experiences of the first year, or on their exit-level outcomes. In South Africa, the challenging transition from first year to second year is especially the case for students moving from a foundation or extended degree programme into the so-called mainstream second year. Lubben (2007) in study of an undergraduate extended physics programme noted that students struggled with the discontinuity in teaching approaches between first and second year physics courses. Smith, Case & Walbeek (2014:636), question ‘the efficacy of a model that focuses largely on first year academic interventions’. They show that these models influenced students’ performance in the first year but did not improve the overall graduation rate of students. Rollnick (2010) has suggested that changes to the curricula and pedagogies beyond the first year are what are needed. This is also argued in a recent CHE (2013) report which highlights the importance of ‘epistemic transitions’ throughout the undergraduate curriculum, and notes that curriculum reform needs to address these key transitions. The report argues that foundational provision needed to extend beyond the first year of a programme. The context of this study is an extended curriculum programme in a Science Faculty, in which the first year Physics and Mathematics courses are spread over two years, allowing more curriculum time for foundational provision (developing conceptual foundations, mathematical understanding, modeling, academic literacy and numeracy skills etc.). Despite this foundational provision, students’ transition to second year remains an ongoing challenge. The first part of this paper uses tools from the Semantics dimension of Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) to better understand students’ transition challenges. Pedagogical practices in a first year physics foundation course and second year physics and mathematics courses are analysed as a means to develop insights into the challenges students face in making the transition to second year. The LCT analysis suggests that this transition may be exacerbated by mismatches and discontinuities in pedagogical practices between first year and second year. The findings suggest that attentiveness to particular pedagogical aspects (pacing, semantic range, representational modes and interactive engagement) would be likely support students in navigating the ‘epistemic transition’ to second year. The second part of the paper describes how the research findings from this LCT analysis of the transition to second year were used to frame an educational intervention. This intervention was developed through collaboration between an academic development practitioner and disciplinary lecturers in mathematics. Clarence (2015) similarly notes the usefulness of LCT tools to ‘assist both academic development practitioners and disciplinary educators, working collaboratively, to analyse and change pedagogical practice in higher education’ (p.3). Changes in pedagogical practices introduced at the second year level included a greater semantic range in the lectures, more semantic waving (including more explicit unpacking and repacking of representational modes used) and more interactive engagement (with students actively engaged in enacting semantic shifts). This paper will report on lecturers’ and students’ experiences of these interventions and the way in which these interventions led to significant and unprecedented improvement in student learning of mathematics at the second year level.


Tuesday July 2, 2019 11:45am - 12:25pm
Room B46

Attendees (4)