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Teaching assistants help students struggling with mathematics

As many as 60 students at UiA will be teaching assistants this year. Silje Hatlevik (21) and Preben Forsland (23) look forward to helping new students with the practical application of mathematics. 

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Teaching assistants Silje Hatlevik and Preben Forsland. Both work with mathematics support at the MatRIC drop-in centre at UiA.
Teaching assistants Silje Hatlevik and Preben Forsland. Both work with mathematics support at the MatRIC drop-in centre at UiA.

“My most important task is to make the students feel included and seen. Psychosocial factors often affect how we learn. Some students need help sorting what they know, others need to be challenged to feel self-improvement”, says Silje Hatlevik. 

Recently she was one of 60 participants at this year’s course for teaching assistants and mentors in FYSE (First Year Study Environment) at the Faculty of Engineering and Science. 

Cracking the code

“Many people find maths challenging as a subject, but I want to show how to crack the codes”, she says. 

Preben Forsland and Silje Hatlevik have both taken part in the course before and have previous experience as teaching assistants.

Preben Forsland and Silje Hatlevik have both taken part in the course before and have previous experience as teaching assistants.

Hatlevik is not new to the role as teaching assistant at the University of Agder. 

She has previously supported new students through FYSE (First Year Study Environment), a wellbeing project under the auspices of the Faculty of Engineering and Science. Today, Hatlevik works at MatRIC’s drop-in centre for mathematics support at Campus Grimstad. 

“By participating in this programme, I had the opportunity to develop myself professionally. I was challenged on how I teach others and became more comfortable in my role”, she says. 

Personal development and professional challenge 

Preben Forsland also has experience as a teaching assistant in various subjects and attended the course at Skottevik together with Silje Hatlevik.

Lillian Egelandsaa, project manager of MatRIC: Centre for Research, Innovation and Coordination of Mathematics Teaching at UiA.

Lillian Egelandsaa, project manager of MatRIC: Centre for Research, Innovation and Coordination of Mathematics Teaching at UiA.


“I want to be someone who can help the students academically, but also make them feel that learning is fun. My best moments are when I notice that people I have helped have learned something from me, and who later thank me for the help”, says Forsland. 

At Skottevik, Hatlevik and Forsland learned how to interact with people to prevent loneliness among other things. 

The participants also learned some useful study techniques, and how to gain a better understanding of mathematics and mathematical thinking. They were also given advice on how to act in their role. 

Now the two will use the tools they received during the teaching assistant programme to help students who experience difficulties in mathematics. 

Fifth year in a row

Project manager of MatRIC, Lillian Egelandsaa, finds that students who come straight from secondary school often struggle with maths anxiety. The drop-in service should help lower the threshold for asking a fellow student rather than a subject teacher. 

“As a teaching assistant in mathematics, it is important to communicate in a safe and constructive way, but also to help students understand the mathematics they are learning. This is the fifth time we organise this, and the teaching assistants who have taken part in this before say it is an important service to offer”, Egelandsaa says contentedly. 

Students at UiA can get help with mathematics through MatRIC’s drop-in offer on both campuses or through the buddy scheme FYSE. 

Does this seem interesting to you? Check out the video of the camp from last year: