Building Confidence in Mathematics

Course offered by: Prof. Dr. Susanne Knobloch
Offering University: TH Rosenheim
Course Language: English
Subject Area: Preparation Courses Free of Charge
Average Workload: 30 Hours Free of Charge Enrol
Picture Credits: Peter Andrew, Ken Heather

What awaits you in this course?


A fear of basic mathematics is widespread among students. This “Maths phobia” begins before university entrance. Many students are trapped in a downward spiral. Because of their fear they avoid the subject as much as possible. This includes an unwillingness to familiarise themselves with concepts via practice.

This carefully designed online course would enable them to ease their fears without the need to confess to others their feelings of inadequacy:

The speed of progress through a concept is relatively slow. We take time to do this and in doing so we can build confidence.

A sense that the concepts being learned are relevant to the world around them. They need examples and illustrations from life. We provide this by providing films from various walks of life, such as student budgeting, playing cards, investing in a degree course, car driving, industrial production etc.

The student is never asked to concentrate on one form of learning for very long. Not only do we build the concepts slowly but we are constantly moving between forms of learning, PowerPoint presentations, talking heads, filmed pieces from industry etc, written pieces and cartoon illustrations of key ideas.

The student needs to be able to check frequently that the concept is understood. For a confident student a test at the end of a chapter is fine but we wish to get the student to check much more often so that they build confidence as they progress through an idea. So, for example, there are many times when we just check one small step in an argument. We also frequently pause during PowerPoint presentations so that the student can reflect on what has been explained.

It has been found that students, particularly uncertain students, learn better with the use of humour. We use humour, particularly with cartoon presentations of key ideas.

Students who are frightened of mathematics are used to thinking in words and in diagrams/pictures. In presenting many of the concepts we begin with words and graphs as a means of introducing them to mathematics. Proceeding from things in which they are confident to things in which they are uncertain is a strong learning tool.

A glossary of terms used is provided at the end of each unit and there is also a master glossary at the end of the course which can be accessed at any time. The master glossary has English terms but there is also a German translation there. This is a further example of reassurance offered to nervous students. It is another way of checking that they understand the concepts.

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What can you learn in this course?

Learning goals

The participants

  • acquire mathematical basics for fundamental subjects such as business mathematics, statistics, business administration, health economics,
  • acquire the ability to recognise mathematical correlations and interpret mathematical results,
  • consolidate their logical thinking,
  • are enabled to work out mathematical topics for themselves,
  • strengthen their self-confidence in their ability to master mathematics,
  • also become familiar with some German mathematical terms - at least in writing - and can thus follow a basic German mathematics lecture more easily.

Knowledge is imparted

  • Basic arithmetic laws such as the rules of parentheses and powers, calculating and transforming fractions, transforming mathematical terms, calculating percentages and calculating with variables,
  • about linear relationships, linear functions and their graphical representation and solving linear equations,
  • about non-linear relationships and some basic types of non-linear functions including the corresponding function graphs and solving the corresponding equations, 
  • about number sequences (especially arithmetic and geometric sequences) and partial sums of number sequences and new sequences formed from them, the so-called series,
  • about first and higher derivatives of a function and their applications, e.g. in the search for optimal points of a graph of a function.



1. Introduction to the Course

2. Why Maths Matters

3. Ratios and Percentages

4. Introduction to Algebra

5. Exponents and Powers

6. Functions and Graphs

7. Linear Equations

8. Quadratic Equations

9. Sequences and Series

10. Introduction to Calculus

Course offered by

Susanne Knobloch

is a mathematician and an actuary. She has teaching experience in mathematics e. g. for engineers and for students of health care management, in insurance mathematics for mathematicians and in statistics for economists.

Further authors

Ken Heather 

lectures in Economics and Business at the University of Portsmouth in the UK. He has taught in various European Universities and in the USA. He is the author of a number of books in Economics. He has written and produced a large number of films in Economics, Statistics and Mathematics.

Target group

Target group

The course is intended for prospective students as well as for students who are already in their first semesters. The aim of this course is to encourage potential students to take up studies in which mathematics plays a significant role, such as business administration, management studies, industrial engineering, etc., even if their school mathematics lessons have given them the feeling that they will never understand mathematics. People in the beginning semesters receive encouragement and support if they "don't see a country" in the basic mathematics lecture. The online course offers the opportunity to close gaps in knowledge and to practise mathematical tools without having to reveal personal weaknesses in mathematics to lecturers or fellow students in the lecture hall or seminar room.

The course is intended to arouse the interest of foreign students in studying at a university in Germany, but also to make clear to them what mathematical knowledge and skills are required.

For German-speaking participants, the course promotes listening and reading comprehension of English colloquial and technical language.
It is important that this course can be used independently of an existing enrolment at a university in order to support a good start to studies. An online course offers very good opportunities for learning at an individual pace. Topics that are not understood can be repeated several times.

Confirmation of participation

In this course you can be awarded a certificate of participation. Please go through the entire 10 units and answer more than 80% of all tests and questions correctly.


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