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Providing blended mathematics support for non-traditional students in a large, first-year finance unit to bridge the numeracy gap

Thursday 4 July: Conference day two, 11:00am – 11:30am parallel session



Room 1 – 302-G20, Case Room  



Dr Sara Hammer
University of Southern Queensland, Australia

Dr Syed Shams
University of Southern Queensland, Australia

Cathy Tame 

Anita Frederiks 

Katrina Cutcliffe



In many professional degrees, numeracy skills are essential for student success.

Yet students are increasingly diverse, and arrive with different levels of academic numeracy. This showcase explores a successful initiative to provide blended mathematics support for non-traditional students in a large, multi-campus, compulsory first year finance unit. Situated in an Australian regional university, many students enrolled in our Bachelor of Business and Commerce degree are typically mature-aged and have learned mathematics in high school but have forgotten these skills or their skills are no longer current. This skills gap has resulted in higher than average attrition rates compared with other units within in the School, which has in turn led to lower levels of success for students across their degree.

To address this problem we designed and embedded a blended mathematics support model: this was a collaboration between Finance academics, academic developers and mathematics advisers. The model included unit specific learning adviser support, learning resources, real-time workshops, and a suite of online self-assessment and self-paced learning activities, including a dedicated mathematics forum monitored by the learning adviser and the unit lecturer.

We used a multi-methods approach to assess the effectiveness of this initiative over two semesters, including levels of student engagement, improvements in student satisfaction, and student success. Our initial findings suggest the initiative has been effective. Firstly, learning management system analytics showed pleasing levels of student engagement with formative, mathematics skill-development activities. Secondly, descriptive survey results and institutional data for the unit show some positive change in student satisfaction levels, attrition rates and student grade performance. While it is difficult to attribute all positive changes to this one initiative, student survey feedback collected to assess the initiative, and qualitative comments from the unit evaluation survey strongly suggest that mathematics support was a contributing factor to student satisfaction and success.


Presentation topic

Students – Learning

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