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Open Learning Support for Mathematical Education for Engineers



 

About HELM Project

 

Mathematics for Engineers - the problem

The importance of mathematics as a tool for the description and analysis of engineering systems and processes has long been acknowledged, and the Engineering Council rightly demands a high level of mathematical knowledge and skill in its accredited engineers.

In recent years the mathematical preparedness of students embarking upon science and engineering degree programmes has been the subject of close scrutiny, with depressing conclusions. Grade inflation, syllabus weaknesses, high failure rates, proliferation of qualifications, increasing attractiveness of other school subjects, undergraduate courses and careers, have all contributed to the problems faced by those who recruit and educate engineering undergraduates.

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The HELM learning resources - a possible solution

The
HELM learning resources are a novel, major attempt to ensure that the Engineering Council's mathematics requirements continue to be met at a time when many undergraduates entering university to study engineering lack the basic skills and aptitude which could be relied upon in the past.

The project team consisted of staff at Loughborough and four consortium partners: Hull, Reading, Sunderland and Manchester. The aim is to enhance and extend Loughborough's successful Mathematics Open Learning materials, in particular by incorporating engineering exercises and case studies closely related to the mathematics presented.

These resources consists of Workbooks, CAL segments and an Assessment Regime (detailed below). They enhance and extend Loughborough's successful Mathematics Open Learning materials, in particular by incorporating engineering exercises and case studies closely related to the mathematics presented. Nothing on this scale has been available before for free dissemination across the HE sector. The emphasis is on flexibility - the work can be undertaken as private study, distance learning or can be teacher-led, or a combination, according to the learning style of the student and the approach of the particular lecturer.

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The HELM project materials and assessment regime


48 student Workbooks written specifically with the typical engineering student in mind containing mathematical topics and related engineering exercises, many of which are available over the web in pdf format. They provide ample space for students to attempt exercises which guide them through problems in stages.

CAL materials :

Web-delivered CAL segments associated with the Workbooks - including audio, interactivity, animation and self-assessment aspects. These are especially useful for supporting students of moderate mathematical ability, and for revision.

Assessment Regime :

An integrated web-delivered CAA regime for both self-testing and formal assessment. Students following the project's regime are typically tested five times each semester with questions delivered over the web. Most of the 4,500 question bank items have feedback. Students are encouraged to engage in their own learning by allowing them unlimited practice tests before taking a one-attempt summative test. Students are strongly motivated to keep up with their studies, thereby improving achievement and progression.

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Page last updated: November 2005