Murdoch students become school maths mentors

June 1, 2017

Pathways to STEM mentors (from left to right) Monica Seeber, Chetan Sadhana, Chris Brown and Lee Wen Wey

Pathways to STEM mentors (from left to right) Monica Seeber, Chetan Sadhana, Chris Brown and Lee Wen Wey

Students at Murdoch University have begun mentoring regional Year 12 pupils in mathematics, thanks to a Federal Government grant.

The Murdoch Pathways to STEM program is providing online tutoring support to more than 50 students from nine schools in Western Australia’s (WA) Great Southern, Wheatbelt and Peel regions.

The tutors are second and third year maths and statistics students at Murdoch, who are in turn gaining training and teaching experience from the tutoring.

Murdoch University Provost, Professor Andrew Taggart, said the program was aimed at enhancing opportunities for regional students to go to university to undertake science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses.

“We want to see many more students from regional and rural areas, and low socio-economic backgrounds, studying for STEM subjects at university and this program provides them with a platform to do so.

“The program is designed to help students prepare for their key assignments and exams. It will boost the number of students choosing and succeeding in mathematics in their Year 12 studies.

“It will also encourage the development of their thinking and analytical skills to prepare them for future careers in our hi-tech digital world.

“Their direct contact with students at Murdoch also gives them an opportunity to learn from those who know best what campus life is like.”

Professor Taggart added that, typically, regional students cannot access the maths tutors that are a staple for many students in Perth.

“We are trying to level that playing field and support students and their teachers,” he said.

The students selected for the program are enrolled in the challenging Australian Tertiary Admission Ranking (ATAR) Mathematics Specialist and Mathematics Methods subjects.

They are participating in online tutorial sessions at times best suited to them. They are also set to take part in intensive ATAR exam preparation sessions at Murdoch in July.

Fourteen schools altogether are signed up to the Pathways to STEM program, with another two schools about to begin tutoring and pupils from a further three schools attending the ATAR exam preparation event.

Murdoch student, Chetan Sadhana, is one of the tutors in the Pathways to STEM program.

He said the experience had been challenging but also a lot of fun.

“I am finding it a stimulating and rewarding experience,” said Chetan. “The level of interaction with the pupils we are achieving is on par with face-to-face sessions.

“Thinking back to my school days, I used to find mathematics mostly a theoretical subject. Doing further studies in mathematics has made me realise that it has widespread application in everyday life and in technology and science.

“This had made me passionate about mathematics and also encouraging students to pursue it.

“The support from Murdoch has been fantastic, providing us with books, resources, training and putting us in touch with the teachers of the students that I am tutoring. The school students are highly motivated and diligent which makes my job as a tutor easier.”

The Murdoch Pathways to STEM program is funded by a $166,433 grant from the Federal Government.

Professor Taggart will be visiting schools in the Great Southern region in August to meet with teachers and students benefiting from the program.

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