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     Widening Participation in HE Project:

Keeping open the door to mathematically-demanding FE and HE programmes (2006 - 2008)

This project has now completed. Major outputs include:


Julian Williams (University of Manchester)
Pauline Davis (University of Manchester)
Geoff Wake (University of Manchester)
Su Nicholson (Loreto College)
Graeme Hutcheson (University of Manchester)
Laura Black (University of Manchester)


Project Summary

The research investigated how pedagogic cultures impact on student learning in mathematically demanding courses in FE and examined how such courses can be enhanced to widen participation for those at risk of marginalisation and drop out from participating and continuing with mathematics. The research formed a comparison of two FE mathematics programmes: an inquiry based, applied programme known as Use of Mathematics (UoM) and traditional A/S maths. The aim was to examine the effectiveness of both programmes in terms of Learning Outcomes and how they mediate the identities of students in relation to mathematics learning and participation in HE. We asked:

•  How effective is UoM in comparison to A/S level maths in promoting Learning Outcomes for 16-19 students? (RQ1)

•  How can different pedagogic cultures mediate different Learning Outcomes for students, especially those at risk of marginalisation? (RQ2)

•  How do different pedagogic cultures mediate students' mathematical identities and aspirations for further study and how is this influenced by gender, social class and ethnicity? (RQ3)

We answered these questions using a combined quasi-experimental and case study design which incorporates measures of Learning Outcomes (attainment self efficacy and intention to participate in FHE) with nested case studies of individual learners in classrooms. The quantitative measures were administered to students on each type of programme to measure effectiveness (RQ1). The case studies involved observations and interviews with students to gain an insight into the complex pedagogic cultures in each classroom (RQ2) and the relation with students' (classed, gendered etc) identity and participation in maths and education generally (RQ3). Overall the project aimed to further our understanding of how pedagogic cultures can support participation in mathematics, especially for our targetted non-traditional AS/A2, potential HE learners.



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