## Abstract

Mathematics graduates are perceived by employers as being equipped with problem solving skills but tend to be deficient on written communication. Communication through writing is a skill that arguably cuts across nearly all disciplines, mathematics inclusive, however written assessments are not commonly used in mathematics discipline. A sample of first-year mathematics students’ perceptions of writing show that some of the students view developing writing skills as irrelevant for their degree, flagging the need for a reorientation of the perceptions of mathematics tutors and students on the relevance of communication/ writing skills for mathematics graduates. Therefore, this study proposes the inclusion of compulsory/ assessed writing sessions in the Mathematics Degree Program aimed at equipping students in the area of critical thinking, and writing. The sessions, which are designed using tailor-made interactive strategies are successively integrated in the Program-Structure thereby fostering an interest in these skills as well as enabling the students develop the confidence in engaging fully with the benefits associated with communication/ writing skills.

Mathematics graduates are perceived by employers as being equipped with methodical and problem solving skills but tend to be deficient on the ability to communicate confidently through writing. Communication through writing is a skill that arguably cuts across nearly all disciplines, mathematics inclusive (Nzekwe-Excel 2014). However written assessments are not commonly used in the mathematics discipline. Precisely, evidence show that mathematics students are not particularly encouraged to engage in writing tasks or activities (Vivaldi 2011; Nzekwe-Excel 2010). Results of a recently assessed essay writing tasks of 71 first-year maths students show that only 38% of the students achieved a B-grade and above level in the essay writing assessment (Nzekwe-Excel and Pope 2014). A further evaluation on the students response in terms of attendance to the writing sessions show that only a very small percentage (18%) of the students attended 4 or 5 out of the total five writing tutorials designed as part of the Academic Writing and Communication Skills Module. A review of the students’ perception of writing show that some of the students view developing or enhancing writing skills for mathematics students as irrelevant for their degree. This flags the need for a reorientation of the perceptions of mathematics tutors and students alike on the relevance of communication/ writing skills for the mathematics graduate. Therefore, this study proposes the inclusion of compulsory and assessed communication/ writing sessions in the Mathematics Degree Program Structure aimed at equipping students in the area of critical thinking, and writing. The sessions, which are designed using tailor-made interactive strategies, are successively integrated in the Program-Structure thereby fostering an interest in these skills as well as enabling the students develop the confidence in engaging fully with the benefits associated with communication/ writing skills.

References:

Nzekwe-Excel (2010). The Role of Mathematics Learning Development Centres in HEIs. International Journal for Mathematics Teaching and Learning, Oct 2010. [Online] Available:

http://www.cimt.plymouth.ac.uk/journal/nzekwe.pdf (July 22, 2015)

Nzekwe-Excel, C. (2014) Academic Writing Workshops: Impact of Attendance on Performance, Journal of Academic Writing, 4(1), pp.12-25

Nzekwe-Excel, C. and Pope, E. (2014) Response of STEM Students to Academic Writing Sessions: A Case Study, American Review of Mathematics and Statistics, 2(1), pp.19-31.

Vivaldi, F. (2011) Mathematical writing: An undergraduate course. [Online] Available:

http://www.maths.qmul.ac.uk/~fv/research/TALK_MathematicalWriting.pdf (Nov 2, 2015)

Mathematics graduates are perceived by employers as being equipped with methodical and problem solving skills but tend to be deficient on the ability to communicate confidently through writing. Communication through writing is a skill that arguably cuts across nearly all disciplines, mathematics inclusive (Nzekwe-Excel 2014). However written assessments are not commonly used in the mathematics discipline. Precisely, evidence show that mathematics students are not particularly encouraged to engage in writing tasks or activities (Vivaldi 2011; Nzekwe-Excel 2010). Results of a recently assessed essay writing tasks of 71 first-year maths students show that only 38% of the students achieved a B-grade and above level in the essay writing assessment (Nzekwe-Excel and Pope 2014). A further evaluation on the students response in terms of attendance to the writing sessions show that only a very small percentage (18%) of the students attended 4 or 5 out of the total five writing tutorials designed as part of the Academic Writing and Communication Skills Module. A review of the students’ perception of writing show that some of the students view developing or enhancing writing skills for mathematics students as irrelevant for their degree. This flags the need for a reorientation of the perceptions of mathematics tutors and students alike on the relevance of communication/ writing skills for the mathematics graduate. Therefore, this study proposes the inclusion of compulsory and assessed communication/ writing sessions in the Mathematics Degree Program Structure aimed at equipping students in the area of critical thinking, and writing. The sessions, which are designed using tailor-made interactive strategies, are successively integrated in the Program-Structure thereby fostering an interest in these skills as well as enabling the students develop the confidence in engaging fully with the benefits associated with communication/ writing skills.

References:

Nzekwe-Excel (2010). The Role of Mathematics Learning Development Centres in HEIs. International Journal for Mathematics Teaching and Learning, Oct 2010. [Online] Available:

http://www.cimt.plymouth.ac.uk/journal/nzekwe.pdf (July 22, 2015)

Nzekwe-Excel, C. (2014) Academic Writing Workshops: Impact of Attendance on Performance, Journal of Academic Writing, 4(1), pp.12-25

Nzekwe-Excel, C. and Pope, E. (2014) Response of STEM Students to Academic Writing Sessions: A Case Study, American Review of Mathematics and Statistics, 2(1), pp.19-31.

Vivaldi, F. (2011) Mathematical writing: An undergraduate course. [Online] Available:

http://www.maths.qmul.ac.uk/~fv/research/TALK_MathematicalWriting.pdf (Nov 2, 2015)

Original language | English |
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Publication status | Published - 2016 |

Event | Annual STEM HEA Conference 2016, Inspire to Succeed: Transforming Teaching and Learning in STEM, - East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham, United Kingdom Duration: 28 Jan 2016 → 29 Jan 2016 |

### Conference

Conference | Annual STEM HEA Conference 2016, Inspire to Succeed: Transforming Teaching and Learning in STEM, |
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Country/Territory | United Kingdom |

City | Nottingham |

Period | 28/01/16 → 29/01/16 |