Making maths accessible

Ms. Gerrie Roberts

Making maths accessible

When it comes to numbers, Senior Lecturer Gerrie Roberts is proving greater student engagement equals better academic performance.

Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics Senior Lecturer Ms Roberts rejects the stereotype that you’re either a maths person or you’re not.

“For some, anything to do with numbers has previously involved a negative experience,” Ms Roberts says.

“The aim of my current work is to instil in students a belief that, despite much of the prior information received in their formative years with respect to maths, they are capable and can go on to become the brightest shining lights in their cohort.”

Ms Roberts uses technology to support an independent learning strategy she calls ‘Engage and Succeed’, which aims to not only make statistics accessible and relevant, but enjoyable as well.

Her pre-class Moodle lessons and quizzes prime students ahead of interactive lectures, which incorporate in-class response technology to enable collaborative learning and feedback.

“Monitoring student responses with live performance analytics means I can pinpoint exactly where they are struggling and adjust the instruction accordingly, in real time,” she says.

“The early intervention and support are critical success factors in helping students engage and succeed.”

"Monitoring student responses with live performance analytics means I can pinpoint exactly where they are struggling."

The learning continues post-class as well, with the self-directed online learning platform MyStudy Plan providing ongoing, supported practice to track student engagement more closely.

Ms Roberts says the focus on interactive teaching has enhanced the student experience and achieved substantial improvements in engagement and academic performance.

“The technology-supported interactivity has been very successful in motivating students to learn, to engage, to inquire, and to change their behaviour around lecture attendance,” she says.

“Investing the time and effort in engaging the students is directly and quantifiably related to better learning and better grades.”

Ms Roberts’ innovative teaching approach has gained recognition from colleagues, the university and the broader community, and she has been invited to present her findings at conferences and in journals.

It has also earned her a Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

“To be singled out for the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence is extraordinarily encouraging, but at the same time humbling,” she says.

“What gets me up each day is wanting to take another step forward in the never-ending story of how to successfully engage and prepare the next generation of business leaders.”