Conference · Maths Support


by Shazia Ahmed

The CETL-MSOR meeting this year took place on 10-11 September at the University of Coventry.

Highlight of day 1: Catching up with all the Maths Support friends from Ireland and England.


  1. Clare Cornock and Erik Baxter from Sheffield Hallam talked about how they teach pure maths topics using practical examples such as knots, Rubik’s cubes and cryptography. It made me want to be a maths student again…
  2. Alessandro Narduzzo from Bath University gave a presentation about the various methods he has used in the classroom (enhanced chalk-and-talk, classroom inversion, technology-enabled peer learning sessions) to engage students. He then went on to analyse each method using student feedback and exam performance.
  3. And of course the brilliant keynote by Prof Jeff Griffiths from Cardiff University – Immigration Queues at Heathrow Airport: A Case Study in Mathematical Modelling.

Highlight of day 2: It was rather busy at breakfast the following morning so Lorna and I ended up sharing a table with two other people. The conversation at the table started off as follows:
Lorna: Are you talking today?
Random Guy: Erm, yes
Lorna: Me too, I’m talking in the afternoon. What are you talking about?
Random Guy: Erm….stuff (now looking very doubtful)
Lorna: (also looking doubtful) Are you at the conference?
Random Guy: What conference?


  1. Aiping Xu’s (from Coventry University) presentation gave a very interesting account of her investigation of international mathematical cultures.
  2. Lara Alcock’s (from Loughborough University) talk ‘Self-explantion training in undergraduate mathematics’ looked at successful student engagement with regards to mathematical proofs. There was a fascinating account of expert/novice eye tracking study comparing the reading processes of mathematicians with those of undergraduate students as well as findings from examining the effects of a self-study booklet.
  3. The afternoon talk, by Jeff Waldock and Ros Porter from Sheffield Hallam University, outlined their use of “Socrative” – a freely available in-class response system – to enhance student engagement. Got to try Soctrative out sometime soon.

Finally the last talk was mine and Lorna’s, and yes it was about VPAL again…Lorna has decided she is never doing one of these talks again, she’s had enough! Given that this was the graveyard slot, quite a lot of people came along, which is always good. I tweeted that we were about to present and it was very gratifying to see another delegate tweeting about our talk – yes he tweeted about other talks too, but it was cool for us anyway!


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