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Enhancing the Communication and Speaking Skills of Mathematics Undergraduates

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Abstract

In June 2011, the University of Lancaster delivered a substantially-enhanced course in Communication and Presentation Skills to 108 second-year undergraduate mathematicians. The course was delivered jointly by staff in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and CETAD, the Centre for Training and Development at Lancaster. Funding for the course and its increased staffing requirement came from an MSOR HE Curriculum Innovation Fund grant of £5,000. CETAD is a specialist unit which focuses on providing training programmes in the North West of England. This project was the first time that CETAD had worked with mathematics undergraduates. Students were divided into 24 small groups. During the course, students prepared and delivered two group presentations, the first for formative assessment and the second for summative assessment. The final session focused on a codebreaking exercise. Feedback to students on their formative and summative assessments was given by a group of peers and by tutors. Participants were encouraged to reflect on their performances and their feedback, identifying development points for them to work on. The response from students was very encouraging.