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Maths Arcade: informal student support that develops logical thinking

Faculty of ACES Learning, Teaching and Assessment Conference 2016, Sheffield Hallam University (16/09/2016). With Claire Cornock.

The Maths Arcade is a drop in session where a wide variety of strategy games and puzzles are available for students to play with other students and staff. These might be simply played, to develop a discipline-themed social environment as an informal support mechanism for students, or strategies might be analysed, to develop students'; logical thinking and stretch more confident learners. The Maths Arcade was initiated by Noel-Ann Bradshaw (2011) at the University of Greenwich, and was developed by Bradshaw with Peter Rowlett to eight universities, including SHU, as part of the National HE STEM Programme (Bradshaw and Rowlett, 2012). At SHU, this is part of the innovative learning environment and staff/student community made possible by the new learning space, and feedback has been positive (Cornock, 2015). An undergraduate summer research project at Nottingham Trent University in 2014 developed a set of game information sheets. These had two aims:
1. to provide a clear description of how to play each game, to make the activity easier for newcomers to pick up, including in busy environments such as induction, open days and outreach activities.
2. to act as "starting points", "introductions to potentially rich mathematical explorations" (Schoenfeld, 1994; p. 45), to encourage students to move beyond simply playing the games to analysis and strategic thinking. A SHU Teaching Enhancement Fund project in 2015/16 has developed information sheets for eleven games used at SHU that were not part of the NTU project and recommended a set of new games to enhance the activity. This session will outline the Maths Arcade concept, demonstrate some of the games and introduce the game information sheets developed during the project.