Preparing students for assessment in Mathematics and Statistics
Dr Layal Hakim, Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of Education and Student Experience in Mathematics and Statistics, shares some effective approaches for supporting students with exams and assessments.
Different forms of assessment […] help students to build a strong knowledge base in mathematics whilst developing their understanding of the assessment methods that work best for them.
Expose students to a range of question types. As many exams in Mathematics and Statistics are closed-book and invigilated, it is important that students develop their ability to not only recall mathematical statements, but also to know when and how to apply them. Preparation for these assessments includes exposing students to a range of questions of all levels of difficulty, and with varied question styles that the students may not have seen before.
Provide model answers and mark schemes. Providing students with solutions to one or two past exam papers alongside the mark scheme helps them to understand how to do well in the assessment or exam. Additionally, in most modules, the final week of teaching is dedicated to revision, and a mock exam is administered to help students feel comfortable with the exam environment.
Include a variety of assessment types beyond exams. Although exams are common, the department also recognises the importance of using a variety of assessment methods to enable students to demonstrate their learning effectively. Different forms of assessment, such as online tests, group reports, individual reports, presentations, posters, and oral tests, help students to build a strong knowledge base in mathematics whilst developing their understanding of the assessment methods that work best for them.
Communication is key. To help the students prepare for different forms of assessments, Layal communicates early and clearly about what assessment methods will be used and why. This helps students understand what is expected of them and prepare both physically and mentally for the assessment.
Consider students’ needs. Preparing students for exams and assessments is particularly important for those who have experienced the challenges of remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. By providing a range of assessment methods and supporting students through practice exams and clear communication, Layal ensures that her students have the best possible chance of success in their studies.
Layal communicates early and clearly about what assessment methods will be used and why. This helps students understand what is expected of them and prepare […] for the assessment.
This case study was developed by Jo Sutherst following an interview with Dr Layal Hakim.
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Professor Layal Hakim was born in London, England. She graduated in July 2010 from Brunel University with a Bachelors of Science degree with Honors in Mathematics. In October 2010, she started a PhD, funded by the EPSRC, in the same department under the supervision of Professor Sergey Mikhailov. Her thesis titled ‘Numerical Analysis of a Cohesive Zone Model Approach for Time and History Dependent Materials’ won the Dean’s Prize for Innovation and Impact in Doctoral Research at Brunel University London in February 2015, and a Merit Prize for best student paper at the International Conference of Applied and Engineering Mathematics part of the World Congress of Engineering in July 2013. In this project, a non-linear history-dependent cohesive zone model of crack growth in linear elastic and viscoelastic materials was studied. Layal completed her PhD in April 2014 and joined the Department of Computing at Imperial College London as a research associate in July 2014. She was a member of the MOSS project, which was funded by the Technology Strategy Board, and lead by Professor John Darlington. The main aim of this project was to obtain a way of processing and archiving binary large objects, using control abstractions presented as higher-order functions, by making wide use of functional programming languages. In October 2015, Layal joined the Department of Mathematics at Imperial College as a research associate in the Applied Mathematics and Mathematical Physics section where she continued researching in the field of fracture mechanics. Alongside her research, Layal used to lecture and mentor undergraduate students in the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Computing. In April 2018, she joined the Department of Mathematics at the University of Exeter.