sigma Network Newsletter
Issue 9: December 2015

In this issue:



Future events

Past events



Dear Santa ...

David Bowers - Chair, sigma Network

This is the time of year when “wish lists” are the order of the day.

Fortunately, my children have grown out of the habit of competing to write out the longest Christmas list ever – mainly by copying out the contents of a well-known home shopping catalogue page by page. But when done thoughtfully, wish lists are a good way to prioritise what we would like, to sort out the important from the merely desirable.

David Bowers, <strong>sigma</strong> Chair

At this year’s CETL-MSOR Conference in Greenwich, the sigma Hub Co-ordinators and I encouraged delegates to write down what they would like the sigma Network to do in future, to help them consolidate or enhance their maths and statistics support services. To pick up and respond to just a few of the suggestions:

  • We hope to trial some webinars this year, to supplement our regional face-to-face networking meetings;
  • We will meet the interests of maths support practitioners in professional recognition by continuing to align our events where possible to the HEA’s UK Professional Standards Framework;
  • We will look to involve colleagues from the Scottish and Irish Maths Support Networks more closely when drafting our new Constitution from August 2016.
  • We will set up some pilot “special interest groups” that focus on a particular theme of maths support, so that people with specific interests and expertise can come together to work on tangible outcomes for the sigma community.

Now it is my turn to declare some wishes…..

The sigma Network is only as strong as its individual members. We currently have a great team of regional Hub Co-ordinators and local enthusiasts, but we would love to have even more people to help share the load of organising meetings, sharing resources and promoting the cause of maths and statistics support through publications and social media. In particular, we will need a conference organising committee for 2017.

Please do consider coming forward! Drop me an email (, or contact your regional Hub Co-ordinator (see

Seasons’ Greetings!

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Joe Kyle's Corner: Leaking roofs

Joe Kyle

My roof is leaking – again!

And, as I’m sure many of you know, these are tricky things to fix. Part of the problem – perhaps the main barrier to a repair - is locating exactly where the problem is – it is unlikely to be immediately above the drips; indeed the source of the problem may be a fair distance away and result from underlying defects in another part of the structure altogether.

Joe Kyle

Much the same, it seems to me, applies in the craft skill of supporting students – especially in mathematics. The student who appears asking for help – usually, in terms such as: I just need to see why this follows from that – will present you with the ultimate manifestation of the problem. But this is simply showing you where the drips appear. It requires some careful and forensic probing to tease out the real source of the issue. Furthermore, it is not unknown for the problem to have been compounded by the unreliable efforts of ‘cowboy roofers’ who have tried a cheap and cheerful bodged patch-up that would never stand up to a really severe test. For example, recently a student was bemused that I had upbraided him for using ‘therefore’ when we needed ‘if, and only’: “but previously I was told that I had to use ‘therefore’ or I would fail”, he bemoaned. We reached a compromise of sorts and it left me feeling, more than ever, that there is a need – at all levels – for good, well-informed support for our students. More power to sigma’s elbow!

I write this on St. Andrew’s Day (tight against my deadline – sorry Janette!); you will likely read it closer to Christmas, equally an excuse for a festive sip in the dull dark days of winter. My best wishes go to all our readers, “every one.”
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Sumaze! your Students

Trevor Hawkes, sigma Director

Ever since 1982 when he got a ZX81 for Christmas, Richard Lissaman has wanted to create a digital game. As a mathematician now working in education for MEI, he has fulfilled that ambition with Sumaze!, which is first and foremost an enjoyable and engrossing game, but which also teaches mathematics by stealth. It was launched in the Apple and Android app stores less than a month ago and is approaching 5,000 downloads.

Here are quotes from two of my correspondents in the States:


“I will confess, when I first saw your email I groaned, internally, fearing yet another math app to make math computations "fun" for kids. But in playing with your prototype I have to say I was surprised and happy. This is clever and sophisticated and cool. Well done! … Very impressed!”

“I was visiting with my 15-year-old grand-daughter, Maggie, this afternoon and mentioned the Sumaze! app. This girl is something of a mathophobe, but no sooner had I mentioned the app than she downloaded it to her iPad. Then it was all that I could do to pry it away from her to talk about adding rational functions.”

The game has 7 ‘rooms’ each with 14 levels; you have to complete most of the levels in one room before you can move on to the next and the levels have to be completed in order. The subjects covered include basic arithmetic, inequalities, elementary number theory and logarithms, and the levels progress from easy to challenging. The game is simple to play and the emphasis is on gaming enjoyment rather than education.

The game’s gestation took several years. Working on the project as a hobby to begin with, Richard designed and built a web-based prototype using the free software GameMaker. When the sigma Network saw the game’s potential for maths support, it funded its conversion to a mobile app. The app in its current form will remain a free download, but MEI will be looking to develop further iterations in the future. At the time of writing, three weeks after its launch in October, there have been over 5,000 downloads from the Apple and Android app stores combined.

In its mobile-app form, Sumaze! is suitable for maths support tutors to recommend to students who need to reinforce their basic maths skills and develop their fluency in arithmetic. But because it requires you to work steadily through the levels in order, it is not suitable to use as quick remedy for a particular weakness, such as inequalities or logarithms. Fortunately, however, Richard has prepared an online version in GameMaker, which allows tutors to go straight to any level in any room. This can be accessed here

So you now have the incentive to go online, find your way around the game, use it in your teaching and, in the process, have fun.

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The Mathematics Needs of Higher Education

Ellie Darlington, Research Officer, Cambridge Assessment

Research has recently been undertaken by Cambridge Assessment, regarding students’ mathematical preparedness for STEMM and Social Science degrees resulting from the study of A-level Maths and/or Further Maths.

30 lecturers of different subject areas were interviewed, and generally reported that they believed that A-level Maths was suitable preparation. Nonetheless, they expressed some concerns regarding some aspects of their students’ mathematical understanding.

Over 4,000 current undergraduate STEMM and social scientists who had taken at least AS-level Maths completed an online questionnaire regarding the modules that they studied as part of the A-level(s), and how well they believed they were prepared by those for the mathematical demands of their degree.

The majority of students of all subject disciplines believed that A-level Maths and/or Further Maths had been good preparation for the mathematical component of their university studies. However, they nonetheless made some interesting suggestions for how the content and assessment might better serve as preparation for university study. Additionally, students of different degree subjects found taking certain optional applied mathematics units more helpful than others. This will provide useful information for mathematics teachers, prospective undergraduates and admissions tutors regarding how best to prepare students for future study in different disciplines.

A report on undergraduate mathematicians of A-level Further Maths is available online in the informal proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. Comparisons between A-level Maths and Further Maths and equivalent curricula and qualifications in other high-performing countries can be found in the latest edition of Research Matters.

Recommendations for prospective A-level students, Maths teachers, prospective STEMM and Social Science undergraduates and admissions tutors will be made in due course based on the findings.

Those interested in receiving updates when research findings are published should contact

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Mathematics Learning Support meeting with Politicians in Ireland

Ciarán Mac an Bhaird, Maynooth University

Members of the Irish Mathematics Learning Support Network were invited to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection. The Houses of the Oireachtas contain the Dáil (Parliament) and Senate. The Oireachtas committees are composed of members of both the Irish parliament and senate. There were Presentation and Question and Answer sessions with the committee based on the 2014 IMLSN publication 'Student Evaluation of Mathematics Learning Support: insights from a large multi-institutional survey.' Video recordings of these sessions are available from and further information on the publication is available from

The IMLSN members received very positive feedback from the Joint Committee on both the report and the work being done in the provision of Mathematics Learning Support (MLS). The committee asked the IMLSN to send them recommendations on how MLS can be better supported at institutional and national level so they would pass these on to both the Minister for Education and Department of Education officials. The IMLSN committee will forward recommendations based on feedback received in a recent survey from staff involved in MLS provision across the island of Ireland. The results of this survey will be available in spring 2016.


Irish Mathematics Learning support newtork
Ciarán Mac an Bhaird (Maynooth University), Senator Mary Moran (Labour Party Senate Spokesperson on Education, Disability, Equality & Mental Health), Eabhnat Ní Fhloinn (Dublin City University) and Ciarán O'Sullivan (Institute of Technology Tallaght) outside the Houses of the Oireachtas in Dublin.
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sigma Prize for Outstanding Contribution – Dr Christine Pereira, Brunel University London

Christine has been recognised for her contribution to statistics education and support through the development of a wealth of video based resources, predominately focussed on SPSS support. She was presented with a sigma Prize for Outstanding Contribution at the CETL-MSOR Conference 2015.

Christine Perreira
Duncan Lawson, sigma Director and Christine Pereira, Brunel University

sigma Prize for Outstanding Contribution – Dr Ellen Marshall, University of Sheffield

Like Christine, Ellen has been recognised for her contribution to statistics education and support through the development of a wide range of resources.  These have included a portfolio focussed on training materials for statistics tutors.  Her sigma Prize for Outstanding Contribution was presented at the CETL-MSOR Conference 2015 by sigma Director, Duncan Lawson.

Christine Perreira
Duncan Lawson, sigma Director and Ellen Marshall, University of Sheffield

sigma Network Chair’s Award for Outstanding and Sustained Contribution – Dr Leslie Fletcher, Liverpool John Moores University

One of the highlights of the CETL MSOR Conference held at the University of Greenwich in September 2015 was the award to Dr Leslie Fletcher of the sigma Chair’s prize for sustained and outstanding contribution to the field of mathematics and statistics support. This was the first occasion upon which this award was made.

Leslie has vast experience of working in Higher Education including serving as Head of Department at the University of Salford in Manchester. Since leaving that post he has led and contributed to a wide range of mathematics teaching and learning projects, notably in the area of open educational resource development. He was one of the driving forces behind the FETLAR project which harvested and archived a large quantity of such resources. He has maintained a strong commitment to the development of interoperability protocols for computer assisted assessment of mathematics. 

In 2012 he was appointed a sigma fellow and worked on the summative report of sigma’s involvement in the National HE STEM programme - a report which was influential in securing the current tranche of HEFCE funding for sigma.  In the recent past Leslie moved into the field of mathematics support, pioneering developments at Liverpool John Moore’s University and then overseeing the North-West and North Wales sigma hub there.

We wish Leslie a long and happy retirement.

Leslie Fletcher
David Bowers, sigma Network Chair and Leslie Fletcher, Liverpool John Moores University
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MSOR Connections

Moira Petrie, sigma Project Manager

Following the publication of the first issue of the resurrected MSOR Connections journal, sigma has agreed to fund the hard publication and distribution of the next two issues.

Additional copies of the current edition (Volume 14, Issue 1) are available on a first-come-first-served basis from Moira Petrie.

MSOR Connections

For further information on MSOR Connections including published articles and guidelines for authors, see

If you are interested in online archives of articles previously published in MSOR Connections (Volumes 1-13), please read the recent blog post by Peter Rowlett, Sheffield Hallam University at

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New Maths Centre opens in Derry

Ciarán Mac an Bhaird, Maynooth University

The official launch of the new Maths Centre in the North West Regional College (NWRC) Derry took place on October 16th 2015. NWRC boosted its STEM strategy by becoming the first ever Further Education College in Northern Ireland to provide a dedicated Mathematics Support Centre. The resources and support of the College's expert staff are now available to students across NWRC who require support to improve their skills in the application of number in order to help them with their chosen qualification, and to act as a conduit to drive mathematical innovation within the College curriculum.

Launching the initiative were College students and staff, who joined a range of special guests including Leo Murphy, NWRC Principal and Chief Executive, Danny Laverty, Head of School for Science and Technology at NWRC, Jonathan Cole, Queen's University Belfast, and Ciarán Mac an Bhaird, Maynooth University (both of whom are committee members of the Irish Mathematics Learning Support Network. Full details of the NWRC Maths Centre are available and the contact is Dr Terence McIvor, Curriculum Manager for Science and Mathematics.

At-a-Glance Prescription leaflet
Dr Terence McIvor (Curriculum Manager for Science and Mathematics, NWRC), Dr Jonathan Cole (Queen's University Belfast), Dr Ciarán Mac an Bhaird (Maynooth University) and students from NWRC
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sigma Student Intern Projects

Moira Petrie, sigma Project Manager

The 6 Summer Student Intern projects that were funded over the summer of 2015 (£2,000 per project) were:

  • Brunel University London: To enhance the maths e.g. computer-aided assessment engine to cover more basic mathematics and statistics;
  • University of Bath: To investigate and identify promotional activities for the Mathematics Resources Centre (MASH) at the University of Bath;
  • University of Leeds: To develop e-assessment activities, including integral calculus and financial mathematics;
MSOR Connections
  • University of Central Lancashire: To assist with the development of a three day outdoor course for mathematicians, that addresses mathematical skills through experiential games;
  • Newcastle University: To develop further material for the mathematics and statistics on-line support wiki found at;
  • University of Nottingham: To produce engaging support, training and promotional materials for the School of Mathematics’ new PASS scheme (Photo: Ewan McMurran, PASS Leader, University of Nottingham)

All of the projects completed successfully and were presented at the CETL-MSOR conference in September (2 in parallel sessions and 4 in the keynote session).  Feedback from the project supervisors indicates that the work undertaken has been of great value to the student interns particularly in terms of the development of transferable and employability skills.

We are currently funding 4 in-term student projects for the final year of the sigma project and expect to increase this to 6 projects in the near future.  The four are at the University of Bath, Brunel University London, the University of Worcester and West Nottinghamshire College.

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CETL-MSOR 2015: Sustaining Excellence - 8/9 September 2015

This year’s conference was held at the University of Greenwich on Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th September 2015. 

Sustaining Excellence
The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich where the Conference Dinner was held.

The conference was attended by 137 delegates (an increase of 32 on 2014) representing 55 institutions (44 in 2014).  The programme included 4 keynote sessions, 50 30-minute sessions and 4 1-hour workshops.  Due to some emergency flood work, the conference dinner was relocated at late notice to the Painted Hall, which was a real bonus.

Feedback was received from 69 delegates (50.3% of the total attendance). Of the respondents, 47.3% had attended the conference for the first time.  The vast majority of respondents felt that the conference was very good (34.8%) or excellent (62.3%).

Comments included:

The historic venue was amazing - having the conference dinner in the Painted Hall was a fantastic bonus. The talk at the Planetarium was pitched at just the right level. The standard of talks, both plenary and contributed, was extremely high. This must rate as one of the best CETL-MSOR ever.

It was fantastic, and definitely made me feel inspired. I think the most difficult thing will be deciding what to focus on. It was also valuable to be updated on the changes in GCSE and A-level curriculum.

Thoroughly enjoyed it; very well organised; extremely friendly conference as ever. Possibly 4 parallel sessions instead of 5 would have been better - felt like I missed a lot of interesting talks!

I had not been to this conference before and did not know quite what to expect. I really enjoyed it (and the Planetarium show was superb!)

Having received 20 submissions, work is underway on the publication of Conference Proceedings.  It is hoped that the Proceedings will be ready for publication by the end of this calendar year.

All CETL-MSOR 2015 Conference abstracts and those presentations that have been made available may be accessed from the sigma network website. See

Sustaining Excellence
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New statstutor and mathcentre Community resources

A number of new resources are being added to mathcentre and statstutor following the resource funding calls and contributions to the Communities Centre projects. Recent additions are detailed below. If you have develeloped resources, either for students or staff, that you are willing to share with the mathematics and statstics support community, please contact Janette Matthews ( It may be possible to host these resources on Loughborough University servers thus enabling them to continue to be accessible in the future.
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Short Numerical Reasoning Revision Leaflets (mathcentre)

Eleanor Lingham, Sheffield Hallam University

I would like to thank the sigma Network for a 2014 Resource Development Fund grant that enabled me to develop a bank of 24 leaflets to help undergraduates refresh their numerical skills. In my previous role at De Montfort University (DMU), I started a numerical reasoning workshop (with Ann Baughan, Careers) to help students prepare for graduate numerical reasoning tests. While running these workshops, and in my role at the DMU Maths Learning Centre, I noticed that many students had forgotten the key numerical skills needed to do well on these tests.

As a result, I began to write materials to help them quickly and effectively refresh their knowledge. When I received the sigma grant, I was able to develop a bank of 24 leaflets on the range of topics that often arise in numerical reasoning tests, such as bar charts, shares and dividends, foreign exchange. For ease of use, each leaflet is two pages long, and contains brief information and some worked examples. Where more space is needed, these bite-sized leaflets are aimed at particular skills (e.g. How to get X% of Y). While these leaflets may not contain enough detail and help for every student, I think they can be a useful revision step for the average undergraduate.

The leaflets are:

    1. Percentages, fractions and decimals
    2. What is X% of Y
    3. What percentage of Y is X
    4. X is Y% of what
    5. Percentage increase and decrease
    6. What is the change in percentage
    7. Bar charts
    8. Composite bar charts
    9. Pie charts
    10. Line graphs
    11. Histograms
    12. Double charts
    13. Tables
    14. Split tables
    15. Ratios
    16. Pricing or Cost Analysis
    17. Turnover or Revenue or Sales
    18. Shares and Dividends
    19. Currency and Foreign Exchange
    20. Profit
    21. Yield or Production
    22. Speed and Distance
    23. Timetables and Timings
    24. Averages

I would also like to thank Dr Julie Crowley (Cork Institute of Technology) for moderating the leaflets. They can be found on (Search by topic or 'Lingham'). Please send any comments to me at

Turnover/Revenue/Sales Leaflet
Numeracy Leaflet 17: Turnover, Revenue, Sales
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Facts and Formulae Leaflets for Economics and Business Studies (mathcentre)

Morgiane Richard, Maths Academic Skills Adviser, Student Learning Service, University of Aberdeen

Honours students in Economics and Business Studies and Post-Graduate students studying an MSc in Finance, Accounting and Business Studies at the University of Aberdeen cover common Maths topics in their studies:

  • Logarithms and exponential functions
  • Differentiation and application to constrained and unconstrained optimization of functions
  • Integration

Some of these students have not studied maths in some years, or have National 5 / GCSE Maths qualifications, and therefore will encounter these topics either for the first time, or will not have practised them for a long time.

In addition, these students need to grasp rather complex mathematical concepts quickly. Indeed, they came to study a degree in Economics or Business Studies – and Post-Graduate students only have one year – and not to study Maths. Therefore they need to concentrate on understanding and remembering exactly what they need in their own context, and no more.

mathcentre contains some resources for Economics and Business Studies, however, the existing teaching resources cover arithmetic and algebra, but not the topics mentioned above. So I created four Facts and Formulae leaflets, on the model of MathCentre Facts and Formulae, on

The leaflets have been peer-reviewed by Anthony Cronin, University College Dublin, and Shazia Ahmed, University of Glasgow. Each leaflet is one A4-side only, so that all the information can be seen at a glance, and contains applications of each topic in Economics and Business Studies.

At-a-Glance Prescription leaflet
At-a-Glance 14: Prescription (1)
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sigma South East Hub event: Tutor Training – 7 September 2015

Dan Brawn, University of Essex

Time: 10:45am to 15:30pm including a buffet lunch. Attended by myself and 12 post grads. Course Tutor: Michael Grove from the University of Birmingham.

Michael Grove conducted the day and his focus was on the difference between teaching and providing learning support.

A series of activities on cards and in small groups were used to address topics. These included dealing with difficult questions notably stats queries, being non-judgemental and encouraging self help and confidence in students, working from lecture notes brought along by the students and not solving assessment questions for them. Ideally the support centre should work closely with course lecturers.

Michael offered a three point approach:

  1. Listen
  2. Question
  3. Explain

Geogebra was used over the lunch period as a means to explore concepts and pose problems.

After lunch, some dos and don’ts were explored. Useful themes included centre staff knowing their limits, being open with the student and the importance of maintaining a professional relationship throughout. One suggestion was to advertise the duty times and particular expertise of centre staff such as statistics experts.

In the section on providing statistics support, Michael advised that many centres cannot really manage statistics support except for basic introductory statistics concepts. He pinpointed the universities of Loughborough and Coventry as being some of the few which have support centres capable of providing good statistics support.

Michael finished by emphasizing the usefulness of working in a support centre for careers and CVs. He offered some online resources:


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sigma South West & South Wales Hub event: Tutor Training - 2 October 2015

Emma Cliffe, sigma South West and South Wales Hub co-ordinator

A sigma SW&SW Tutor Training event for mathematics and statistics support centre tutors was held on Friday 2nd October at Cardiff University. The training was based around the sigma guide for tutors and was delivered by Michael Grove (sigma) and Rob Wilson (Cardiff) with input from Jon Gillard (Cardiff) on statistics support.


South West Tutor event


The day included: what mathematics support is; problem solving; principles of mathematics support sessions; considerations for statistics support and exploration of possible scenarios. There was also time for discussion, questions and answers to ensure that all tutors left feeling they had got what they needed from the day.

The twenty-one attendees came from the University of Portsmouth, Cardiff University and three mathematics support centres at Swansea University. Staff tutors from Bath attended to learn more about how the training is delivered. Attendees felt that helpful things included: “confirmation that I don't need to know everything”; “dos and don'ts”; “details of resources”; “real-life examples”; “working through example scenarios with others” and “strategies to deal with complex situations”.

Two attendees summarised: “Very dynamic, interactive and easy-going. Helped me get a bit more confidence as to my ability to be a good tutor” and “[...] was basically maths support support. Very helpful

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sigma North West & North Wales Hub event: Tutor Training - 28 October 2015

Ian Jarman, sigma North West & North Wales Hub Co-ordinator

The sigma North West & North Wales regional hub organised a training day aimed at “Supporting Postgraduates who Tutor in Mathematics Support Centres” on Wednesday 28th October hosted by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).

The event was attended by 13 delegates not just from the hub region (LJMU and Chester) but we were also delighted to welcome representatives from Sheffield and Leeds Universities. Michael Grove and Tony Croft delivered an excellent programme covering Post-graduate focused topics: What is maths support, The do’s and don’ts of maths support, exploring scenarios and student needs in a maths support centre. An enjoyable session was also delivered by one of the delegates, Ellen Marshall, on offering statistics support.

The delegates were enthusiastic and fully engaged in the interactive sessions making for a fun day. This was affirmed by the feedback with an overall average satisfaction mark of 4.6 out of a possible 5. The success of the day was down to everyone involved, so thank you all who participated.

At-a-Glance Prescription leaflet
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R Day: Delivery of Statistics Support using R – 2 December 2015

Dan Brawn, sigma Eastern England Hub

The popular and free software termed “R” is already well used by academics across various disciplines. The R Day, to be held at the University of Essex Campus near Colchester, will focus on how R can be used to provide statistical support to students and academics or to the wider community outside academia. Learning support centres, which offer excellent Maths support, often struggle to provide the same level of service in Stats beyond only basic statistical concepts. This sigma R day will explore how to use the R software in a teaching or help desk style scenario for Statistics.

The day will be led by three experienced practitioners:

  • Dr Spyros Vrontos (Essex University)
  • Dr Jim Bull (Swansea University)
  • Dr Magnus Johnson (Hull University)

Participants will not be expected to know R although some basic familiarity will be useful. Only elementary statistical knowledge will be assumed. It is envisaged that this sigma R day will be the first of a trio with Jim and Magnus hosting the other two at Swansea and Hull, thus neatly covering much of England and Wales.

The meeting will be particularly helpful for those just starting in a Stats support service, for example through the sigma funding initiative, but more experienced practitioners will also find it interesting and an opportunity to network with others.

To book a place, or for further information, please contact: Dan Brawn, sigma Eastern England Hub Assistant Co-ordinator:

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sigma North West & North Wales Tutor Training - 15 December 2015

Ian Jarman, sigma North West and North Wales Hub Co-ordinator

A free training day is being held on Tuesday 15 December 2015 at Lancaster University for tutors who work in mathematics and statistics support centres or who otherwise support students to enhance their mathematical skills.

The course will be delivered by members of sigma, based around the sigma guide “Tutoring in a Mathematics Support Centre“. The training is ideal for Post Graduate tutors new to mathematics and statistics support but is open to anyone who wishes to reflect on the ways in which mathematics and statistics support differs from traditional lecturing.

This event is being hosted by Lancaster University and the sigma North West and North Wales Hub.

To reserve a place at this FREE event, please email Emma Jupp

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sigma Midlands Tutor Training - 14 January 2016

Ruth Fairclough, sigma Midlands Hub co-ordinator

The sigma Midlands Hub is holding a free new tutor training session on January 14th 2016 at the University of Wolverhampton Walsall campus. This free training day is for tutors who work in mathematics and statistics support centres or who otherwise support students to enhance their mathematical skills.

The course will be delivered by members of sigma, based around the sigma guide “Tutoring in a Mathematics Support Centre“. The training is ideal for Post Graduate tutors new to mathematics and statistics support but is open to anyone who wishes to reflect on the ways in which mathematics and statistics support differs from traditional lecturing.

This event is being hosted by the sigma Midlands hub. The program is available here. To reserve a place at this FREE event, please email Ruth Fairclough

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Preparing Students for Numerical Psychometric Tests – 15 January 2016

Noel-Ann Bradshaw, sigma South East Hub co-ordinator

The next sigma meeting organised by the South East Hub is taking place on Friday 15 January from 10:30-3pm at the University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, London, SE10. The focus is on Preparing Students for Numerical Psychometric Tests.

Speakers include:

  • Kate Croucher (FDM Group, UK’s leading IT graduate employer) – giving an employer perspective
  • Eleanor Lingham (Sheffield Hallam) – creator of several resources for helping prepare students for these tests
  • Janette Matthews (sigma) – co-author and presenter of the Loughborough University FutureLearn course ‘Numeracy Skills for Employability and the Workplace

Please email Noel-Ann Bradshaw if you would like to register for this event including details of any dietary requirements.

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Beyond mathcentre: electronic resources for maths assessment and support – 22 January 2016

Emma Cliffe, sigma South West and South Wales Hub co-ordinator

The sigma South West & South Wales Hub is hosting a meeting on ‘Beyond mathcentre: electronic resources for maths assessment and support‘ at the Treforest Campus of the University of South Wales on Friday 22 January 2016.

This meeting will focus on electronic resources for maths assessment and support beyond the well known mathcentre. The aim of this meeting is for all attendees to leave with new starting points and contacts in their network to assist in exploring the wealth of electronic resources available for use in maths assessment and support. The meeting is suitable for any member of staff or postgraduate tutor involved in mathematics or statistics assessment or support in higher education.

There is no charge for attending this event and refreshments and lunch will be provided. For further information about the meeting, including a full schedule of the day, and to register your attendance please see:

For those working towards HEA Fellowship, attendance at and engagement with this event, and reflection on its implications for practice, could help to provide evidence towards elements of the UK Professional Standards Framework: A1, A4, A5, K2, K3, K4, V2, V3

For further information please contact Emma Cliffe,

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Numeracy Skills for Employability and the Workplace -1 February 2016

Numeracy Skills for Employability and the Workplace is a free, online course from the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University starting on 1 February on the FutureLearn platform. Registration is now open.

The course, being presented for the third time, aims to prepare students for employers’ numeracy testing which is a barrier to employment for many. Over the three-weeks, students will learn about the rationale for psychometric tests, refresh the numeracy skills that they need to be successful and improve their mathematical confidence. Course components consist of video tutorials, onscreen articles, discussion forums and quizzes for lots of practice. Students may work at their own pace starting at a later date or taking longer to complete the course if needed.

"This was a brilliant course! I found it really useful, thank you so much. I feel that I'm much more confident when working with numbers and I'm sure I will definitely score a higher mark in the next numeracy test that I take. I've learnt that I really need to slow down and read the question properly. That was my biggest issue [..]." Tangila Begum (14 July 2015)

"I have enjoyed all of this course. It has been well paced, informative, very clear and really helpful. My mathematical confidence has increased significantly and I will in future avoid the diversion tactic of 'I'm not good at maths, ask someone else'. The course materials have been excellent. Can't thank you enough [..], but what else can I say...THANK YOU. I would highly recommend this course to others." Jillian Brannan (8 November 2015)

To register:

Contact Janette Matthews ( for further information.

Sustaining Excellence
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sigma Eastern England Tutor Training - 2 March 2016

Dan Brawn, sigma Eastern England Hub

The sigma Eastern England Hub is holding a free new tutor training session on 2 March 2016 at the University of East London, Docklands campus. This free training day is for tutors who work in mathematics and statistics support centres or who otherwise support students to enhance their mathematical skills.

The course will be delivered by members of sigma, based around the sigma guide “Tutoring in a Mathematics Support Centre“. The training is ideal for Post Graduate tutors new to mathematics and statistics support but is open to anyone who wishes to reflect on the ways in which mathematics and statistics support differs from traditional lecturing.

This event is being hosted by the sigma Eastern England hub. We thank UEL for their hospitality.

To reserve a place at this FREE event, please email Dan Brawn

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2016 CETL- MSOR Conference - 6/7 September 2016

The 2016 CETL-MSOR Conference will be held at Loughborough University from Tuesday 6 September - Wednesday 7 September 2016.

A call for presentations and registration details will be published here in March 2016.

For further information, please contact Moira Petrie (

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sigma Network Mailing list (SIGMA-NETWORK@JISCMAIL.AC.UK)

The sigma Network uses the sigma Network mailing list (SIGMA-NETWORK@JISCMAIL.AC.UK) to promote events and announce funding calls. The mailing list is also used by mathematics and statistics support practitioners to seek information and discuss items of mutual interest. Archives of previous posts are accessible from the SIGMA-NETWORK JISCMAIL home page.

Please encourage your mathematics and statistics support colleagues and tutors to sign up to the mailing list. It is possible to opt to receive a digest weekly instead of ad-hoc email communications.

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Recent reports and research publications

This regular column lists recent publications relevant to mathematics and statistics support practitioners. If you are aware of any publications that may be of interest to this community, please will you send them to It is our intention to compile a bibliography which will be available from the sigma Network and mathcentre websites.


No reports were submitted for this issue.

Journal and Conference Publications

Cronin, AG and Breen C. (2015) Maximizing the impact of digital supports in Mathematics Learning Support in Higher Education – An Overview of the 9th Annual IMLSN Workshop. MSOR Connections 14 (1), pp11-17.

Nuala Curley and Maria Meehan (2015) The challenge of collecting useful qualitative data on students’ visits to a Mathematics Support Centre at a university in Ireland. In: Adams. G. (Ed.) Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics 35(1)

Fitzmaurice, O., Mac an Bhaird, C., Ní Fhloinn, E., & O’Sullivan, C. (2015) Adult Learners and Mathematics Learning Support. Adults Learning Mathematics: An International Journal, 10(1), 68-83

Henderson, K., Gwynllyw, R. and Summers, N. (2015) Using e-assessment to improve numeracy in pre-registration nurses and midwives. In: IATED, , ed. (2015) Edulearn15 Proceedings. IATED. ISBN 9788460682431 Available from:

Lawson, D. and Croft T. (2015) Mathematics Support – Past, present and most importantly, future. MSOR Connections 14 (1), pp 4-10.

Lingham EF and Baughan A. (2015) A proactive collaborative workshop approach to supporting student preparation for graduate numerical reasoning tests. MSOR Connections 14 (1), pp 39-42.

Conference Presentations

CETL-MSOR 2015 Conference presentations - links to all conference abstracts and presentations that have been made available.

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The sigma e-Newsletter is a quarterly community publication and the views expressed do not
necessarily constitute recommendations from the sigma Directorate.

We welcome contributions on any topic that may be of interest to practitioners and academics
supporting higher education students in their learning of mathematics and statistics. Please contact
Janette Matthews (

The deadline for contributions for the next edition (March 2016) is 19 February 2016.

For more information, visit
or contact

#mathssupport, #statssupport

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