LAST year, nearly 80% of students who took Further Mathematics in the Taylor’s College Cambridge A Level (CAL) programme scored A or A*.
The college reveals that at least 40% of students scored As in 11 out of 13 subjects, with more than half the class performing exceptionally well in subjects such as Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Biology, Accounting, Chemistry, Economics and Law.
For the many of us who will rejoice at a mere pass grade in Additional Mathematics in SPM, being in a Further Mathematics class where the majority are A-scorers might be mind-boggling.
But the secret of their success may surprise you. It’s all about collaboration.
“The strength of the college lies in the team teaching Further Mathematics – it is a collaborative effort, ” says Logesh Sivapakianathan, CAL lecturer for Further Mathematics.
“Everyone helps each other and we work very well together for the common good of the programme. So students who step into this programme will find themselves guided by a credible lot of lecturers and administrators.”
Logesh adds that the Taylor’s team supports students by providing testimonials for all students for university applications, mentoring and pastoral care, conducting revision workshops, and organising peer-tutoring groups.
However, she is quick to point out that it’s not just about team effort from the lecturers and administrators, but also on the part of students.
“It takes two to tango. The teacher and student must collaborate throughout the teaching and learning period, ” she says.
Grace Lee Zhi Jing, who obtained 4A* in her CAL examinations, says that apart from the tutoring from senior experienced lecturers, peer support created a conducive environment for her to achieve her academic goals.
“Learning with a group of motivated students not only deepened my understanding of learned materials, but also lowered the level of stress and anxiety when exams were nearing, ” she says, adding that she organised study sessions with her classmates.
“The positive and supportive relationship between peers was crucial for me to keep the momentum going.”
See Ming Lee, module leader for the CAL Further Mathematics subject, says that even the style of teaching his team employs is collaborative rather than instructive.
“I will give students challenging questions that require them to use specific techniques. I would encourage them to solve those in their own way, then only show them the easiest solution, ” See says.
“I probe as I teach, ” adds Logesh. “I ask questions, and based on students’ replies, I ask even more to get them to think of the answer to a complicated question.”
Logesh also believes that explaining the “why” of mathematical formulas contributes to her students’ learning experience.
“I search for videos that would provide visualisation of a concept, demonstrate the dynamics of how something works, or the application of a particular area of math in real life, ” she says.
The culture of collaboration seems to be paying off – not just for the students, but also for the lecturers who often find themselves learning from their students as well.
“I once spent 10 minutes working on a question in front of the class. When I finished, one student came up and showed me his method, by applying a specific theorem that I taught them not long ago, solving that question in a much shorter time, ” reveals See.
“This made me realise that although I am teaching, I am also learning at the same time from the students!”
For more details on Taylor’s College pre-university programmes, join the Taylor’s Digital Open Day on April 3 and 10 at bit.ly/taylorscollegedod.