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How I help students with their maths skills

Mathematics and Physics undergraduate student Ethan explains the support on offer to students and how he is helping first-year students with maths skills.

Two students are sitting together writing notes
The Mathematics Resource Centre offers weekly drop-in sessions to help students with maths skills.

Starting at University was very unnerving to me; I knew it would be much harder than school, but I didn’t expect the level of support that I ended up receiving at Bath. The University offers lots of opportunities for skills enhancement and academic support, which was especially helpful in my first year of study.

Working with my personal tutor

My first port of call for many issues was my personal tutor. This was a member of staff in my department who acted as a point of contact not only for academic advice, but also personal matters such as issues to do with health and wellbeing.

In my first two years, we had weekly meetings, discussing problem sheet questions and issues with the lecture notes. It was a bit easier to ask her questions than to ask the lecturers, which seemed a bit daunting at the time.

Personal tutors can also provide references for placements and jobs in the future, which was an extra reason to attend the weekly meetings.

Getting help with maths

While my personal tutor helped me with departmental issues, working towards a degree demands a lot of academic and digital skills, and one a lot of people worry about is maths!

I work with the Mathematics Resource Centre, or Mathematics and Statistics Help (MASH). We offer a weekly drop-in session where you can talk one-on-one with a tutor about any maths issues you encounter.

It’s expected that for less mathematical programmes you may not have studied A-Level maths, or it may be buried far back in your memory. The role of the MASH drop-in is to break down and simplify maths and statistics problems that may crop up in whatever application you are studying, so it won’t be a problem if you’re not completely familiar with maths.

There are also drop-ins specifically for maths students in their first year, which I attended in my first year and help to run now. Many departments offer something similar to this, for example sessions called Peer Assisted Learning (PAL). The idea of these sessions is that students can bring in whatever problem sheet questions or queries they have, and older students will do their best to help. The sessions are quite informal, and you can even just come in and work without asking any questions. Problem sheets set by lecturers are designed to challenge you, so the MASH tutors will break down the lecture content and offer support so problems are more manageable.

As a first-year student, it was helpful to hear from students who had studied and taken exams on the content. Their perspective provided a different angle compared to the lecturers.

Skills support and enhancement

Despite how hard University seems at first, there are plenty of opportunities for support in whatever subject you’re studying. The Skills Centre helps with a wide range of development opportunities including academic writing, foreign languages, and developing coding skills. The availability of all these programmes has been really comforting to me as I navigate through my degree.

Discover the skills support available to students

Find out more about the Skills Centre