Abstract: Context: Students enter undergraduate engineering degree programs with a wide range of mathematical knowledge, skills, aptitudes and abilities. A significant proportion of engineering undergraduates struggle with course mathematics requirements. Student pass / fail rates in engineering maths show that QUT's BEng students are no exception. QUT provides out-of-class support to students needing extra assistance with their maths (at point-of-need) via our STIMulate program. Difficulty dealing with the mathematics requirement of engineering courses is known both anecdotally and via a body of published research, to be a major contributor to students failing to complete their degree.
Purpose: QUT's STIMulate program philosophy of support-for-learning embraces a social justice framework, student leadership, student-academic partnerships, peer assistance and facilitated learning. The STIMulate program has developed a series of complementary approaches to support academic success. The success of the program can be attributed in part to this combination of approaches and to a deliberate move away from the deficit model so often associated with learning support. The program has proven to be of value to large numbers of students with a range of mathematical knowledge, skills, aptitudes and abilities.
Approach: Since 2013 STIMulate has supported student learning in maths, science and IT at QUT. It is a service founded on sound pedagogical practice. QUT's STIMulate program offers a multi-faceted approach of support to all coursework students (both undergraduate and postgraduate). It aims to enhance student learning, to increase capabilities and confidence in mathematical and scientific concepts, as well as to expand information technology skills and competencies. A well-developed consultation framework enables our STIMulate service to integrate with, complement and support QUT's curriculum. STIMulate uses sophisticated planning techniques that accurately predict levels of student demand at different stages of the upcoming semester.
Results: Evidence of the positive impact of STIMulate can be found in student grades, retention (attrition), lecturer feedback, client attendance figures and student client feedback (both anecdotal and via planned survey responses). On all measures for 2015 and 2016 (GPA, academic success, retention, attrition) students who attended STIMulate achieved better outcomes than those who did not. It is particularly pleasing to see a significant proportion of students from target equity cohorts taking advantage of our STIMulate service.
Conclusions: QUT's STIMulate program offers a model of how to optimally organise and deliver support for mathematics learning. It demonstrates how academics and students can effectively partner to deliver a quality service.
To cite this article: Lightbody, Ian; Wilson, Therese and Dawson, Graham. Out-of-class mathematics support for engineering students [online]. In: 27th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : AAEE 2016. Lismore, NSW: Southern Cross University, 2016: 464-475.
[cited 26 Apr 17].