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Transferability Phase

Open Learning Support for Mathematical Education for Engineers


Transferability Phase


The HELM project produced high quality printed and electronic support materials for the learning of mathematics and statistics by engineering students in Higher Education. These were designed to improve students’ mathematical understanding and competence in contextual application to engineering, to improve student progression and retention, and to make better use of staff time. They include:

  • Student Workbooks – these cover all the Year 1 and Year 2 mathematics and statistics found in most engineering courses. They are available in hardcopy or pdf.
  • Tutor’s Guide – this focuses on the modes of pedagogic usage and implementation strategies of the HELM learning resources based on experience from the HELM consortium and triallists.
  • CAL segments – these link with 23 of HELM’s more elementary Workbooks. We have linked with the Glasgow Caledonian-led ReSET project to make this deliverable available widely.
  • CAA – we delivered a databank of about 6000 questions consisting of 20 alternative near-identical questions on each of about 300 concepts. Each set of 20 is divided into two subsets of 10 which could be used for formative testing and/or summative testing.


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Aims of the HELM educational transfer project (HELMet)

The overall purpose of the HELM Transferability project was to encourage the effective transfer of practice across institutions.

HELMet’s first aim was to convert some HEIs who had been involved with trialling and some newly identified potential HEI users into long-term users of HELM materials.

HELMet’s second aim was to monitor and support five HEIs using the HELM project deliverables in different pedagogic ways.

HELMet’s third aim was to evaluate the experience of transferring HELM to other institutions and identify the critical success factors.

HELMet’s fourth aim was to produce a report that will enhance the existing Tutor’s Guide to further aid transferability.

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Partners and Project

Six HEIs were recruited as partners and all successfully trialled materials and are now committed to being long-term users of HELM materials. The six institutions and departments/schools involved were:
  • Leicester University Department of Engineering
  • Newcastle University School of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Nottingham University School of Mathematical Sciences
  • Oxford Brookes School of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Portsmouth University Department of Mathematics
  • Salford University School of Computing, Science and Engineering

At Loughborough University, the project was directed by Dr Martin Harrison and centrally coordinated by Dr David Green. Dave Pidcock undertook the task of correcting any errors found in the learning resources during the transferability phase and the reissue of the HELM learning resources CDs in September 2006. Dr Aruna Palipana provided Technical Support.

Dr Green worked closely with the six HEIs whose core teams were as follows:

  • Leicester University Dr Da-Wei Gu, Dr Tony Corbett, Dr Guido Hermann, Dr Emanuel Prempain, Phil Brown
  • Newcastle University Dr Bill Foster, Prof Robin Johnson, Dr Malcolm Farrow, Dr Colin Gillespie
  • Nottingham University Dr Stephen Hibberd and Cliff Litton
  • Oxford Brookes Dr Robert Beale and Richard Francis
  • Portsmouth University Lynn Pevy, Fiona Message, Dr Michael McCabe, Dr David Salt, Alison White
  • Salford University Dr Ian Drumm and Dr Sabine von Hönerbein

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HELM Transferability Symposium Report

During the initial HELM project the focus was on Loughborough developing and revising teaching materials which were critically read externally and then trialled piecemeal at a large number of HEIs. Loughborough centrally organised questionnaires and other forms of feedback from staff and students. The central team made only a few visits to other HEIs (due to time pressures).

During the Transferability phase the emphasis was primarily on the six partner HEIs trialling the materials and integrating them into their own provision and performing their own evaluation. The involvement of new institutions has resulted in an enhancement of the HELM learning resources - to the benefit of the entire sector.

Each of the six participating HEIs presented a report on their activities at an end-of-project symposium held at Loughborough in June 2006.

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HELM Learning Resources: Modes of Usage

HEI Partners
Lecturer’s main teaching notes
Oxford Brookes
Lecturer’s main teaching notes (modified by the HEI)
Independent learning (text-based)
Oxford Brookes
Independent learning (electronic)
Oxford Brookes
Support Centre provision (electronic)
Support Centre provision (text-based)
Oxford Brookes
CD (formative)
Web WebCT (formative)
Oxford Brookes
Web QMP (summative)
Oxford Brookes
Interactive Learning
Mounted on Support Centre server

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Additional Resources

Newcastle have developed 80 video-clips (typically 3-5 minutes in length). Each of these takes the form of solving a short question very similar to one in a HELM workbook, and cover material in the basic mathematics and statistics workbooks. These are being made available to all HEIs. The revised Tutor’s Guide provides details indicating how further video-clips can be produced in-house at minimal cost of time and effort.

Newcastle video clips can be accessed by clicking this hyperlink.

Salford has produced acoustic examples to accompany sections of many first level HELM workbooks. These are available to all HEIs – either for direct use elsewhere or as exemplars showing how to develop similar materials for other science and engineering disciplines.

Accessed directly via,


or via the student area of:



ReSET Project

This ReSET project takes computer-based learning resources, such as the HELM interactive lessons, and uses them as the basis for producing high quality, copyright-cleared, standards-compliant, reusable learning. A selection of the HELM Courseware interactive lessons matching some of the more elementary workbooks have been re-engineered in this way for use by teachers on HNC, HND and Foundation Degree programmes. These learning objects are available through the JORUM Repository.

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Staff Feedback

“Computer tutorials were also an opportunity to try other HELM resources such as interactive lessons and CAA. … online practice tests were constructed and a ‘mock’ phase test run for each week prior to a formal test. These proved very popular as a confidence building exercise.

“The HELM materials were highlighted at two …Teaching Meetings. There was considerable interest in the materials ... In particular the additional Engineering Examples workbook was seen as valuable by the Mechanical Engineering staff.”

“WebCT quizzes using the HELM CAA databank have not saved any time over setting and marking ... However, the major advantages that have occurred have been in flexibility and meeting disability requirements.

“Staff considered the HELM workbooks to be well designed and compiled and a very useful tool to assist with mathematics teaching. The large number of available questions with worked-out solution procedures were seen as greatly helping students to develop their self-learning and problem-solving skills.”

“The workbooks helped us in preparing teaching material and, thus, reduced our workload. Tutorial time has been reduced as well.”

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Student Feedback

“Oral feedback from students has shown that they value the HELM workbooks as giving additional opportunities to practice material within the mathematics course. Frequently during problem classes students can be observed working through the lecturer produced material and/or working through a HELM workbook. Students particularly like those workbooks which cover [basic] material omitted from the lecture course.”

“The HELM workbooks were one of a number of resources provided for independent study for a second year mathematics unit on the Calculus of Several Variables. ... The HELM materials were well received by the students and extracts from their learning diaries are shown below.”

  • “I used the recommended textbook quite a lot, but HELM provided better working out and simplified examples.”
  • “Towards the end of the unit I realised how important the examples and the explanations in HELM were ... I found the HELM books supplied good examples and information throughout.”
  • HELM has been my best friend throughout, as it was really easy to follow and gave excellent examples in order to complete the questions.”

Engineering students who used the HELM materials as the main resource for their semester one Maths unit supplied the following typical feedback:

  • “Are there any HELM workbooks relevant for my semester two Maths unit? I found the workbooks useful in semester one and would like to continue using them.”
  • HELM is a good reference for Maths and analogue electronics. The workbooks provide electrical circuit examples, which is useful for my degree subject.”
  • “From an Engineering perspective HELM fits very well in the environment as the notation is focused on the Engineering aspect rather than pure maths.”

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HELM Transferability Steering Group

Professor Morag Bell PVC(T), Loughborough University
Mr Myles Danson CAA Manager, Loughborough University
Dr David Green Visiting Fellow, Loughborough University
Dr Martin Harrison HELM Project Director, AD(T), Loughborough University
Dr Joe Kyle HEA MSOR Subject Centre, Birmingham
Miss Helen Sherwood AD(T) Secretary, Loughborough University
Miss Liz Willis HEA Engineering Subject Centre, Loughborough University
Dr Andy Wilson Director of Professional Development, Loughborough University


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For comments/enquiries about this web site, contact HELM Web Master
Page last updated: November 2006