Rationale

Rationale

Mathematics derives much of its power from the use of symbols (Arcavi 2005), but research at secondary level has shown that their conciseness and abstraction can be a barrier to learning (Pierce, Stacey & Bardini 2010; MacGregor & Stacey 1997). We anticipate that many students have difficulty with the new and more intense ways in which symbols are used at university (these will be described below), with the consequence that they do not understand the mathematical content as well as they did before, which leads to a decrease in positive affect, which in turn discourages enrolment in further mathematical subjects.