Publication Details

Wilkins, L. (2015). Maybe we could just count the boxes of chocolates? Measuring the impact of Learning Development mathematics support for undergraduate students. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 9 (2), A-91 - A-115.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Journal of Academic Language and Learning


Many students who are required to study mathematics as part of their undergraduate degree find the subject challenging. Support is offered for these students by Learning Development mathematics lecturers, mainly through individual or small-group consultations, workshops on specifically-requested concepts, or drop-in sessions. The effect of this support is difficult to determine, however; yet it is essential to demonstrate its success to the institution's management to ensure continued funding. Confidence in mathematics is a factor associated with a student's success in mathematics learning (Parsons, Croft & Harrison, 2009). This paper describes a project conducted at a large regional Australian university which compared the levels of students' mathematics confidence before and after support obtained through consultations. Different aspects of confidence, as suggested in the literature, were examined, and it was found that there was an increase in the levels of each of them. The paper presents an overview of both the advantages of the project and the problems faced in its implementation. Attitudes towards, and confidence in mathematics of potential primary school teachers are highlighted as it is recognised that these are a vital aspect of the success of their future mathematics teaching. A particularly important part of the project was to obtain students' comments at the end of the period of support; this is suggested as an essential requirement of reporting as not only is it beneficial for the lecturers' data collection, but as well, asking students to reflect on their latest feelings and attitudes towards mathematics may be considered an important step in their becoming self-directed learners.