Supporting the M in STEM Using Online Maths Support Modules

  • Wendy A. LoughlinEmail author
  • Peter R. Johnston
  • Christopher L. Brown
  • Dianne J. Watters


Recently, a range of mathematics support centres and online approaches have emerged in order to address the well-recognised limitations in the mathematical skills of STEM undergraduates (Jackson & Johnson, 2013). Whilst these approaches are often stand-alone without a discipline-specific context, studies have shown that students reported a positive impact of mathematics support on retention, confidence, performance and ability to cope with the various mathematical demands of their courses (Hillock, Jennings, Roberts, & Scharaschkin, 2013; Ní Fhloinn, Fitzmaurice, Mac an Bhaird, & O’Sullivan, 2014). We have developed and implemented a purely online, in-context mathematical support environment, placed in a chemistry and biochemistry context, with 24-h access, termed the Maths Skills Site (MSS), for STEM higher education students undertaking first-year science subjects (Johnston, Watters, Brown, & Loughlin, 2016; Loughlin, Johnston, Watters, Brown, & Harman, 2015). This chapter will review the development of current online learning support scenarios for mathematics in STEM and provide two case study analyses (first-year courses in chemistry and biochemistry), for the outcomes from two years of implementation. The findings from the case studies cover student perceptions, analysis of patterns of student usage of the MSS by mathematical topics and usage over time. Improvements were observed in student achievement of grades of five (credit), upon student usage of the MSS. Finally, we critique this approach to online active learning and identify future directions.


Threshold mathematical skills Online learning support Science undergraduate students Chemistry Biochemistry 



The authors would like to thank the support of the David Green and David Harman for their invaluable assistance with the development of the Maths Skills Site. This work was supported by a University Learning and Teaching Grant.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wendy A. Loughlin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter R. Johnston
    • 2
  • Christopher L. Brown
    • 1
  • Dianne J. Watters
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environment and Science, Griffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Environment and Science, Griffith UniversityNathanAustralia

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