Non-mathematics undergraduates’ perceptions of mathematics and preferences for supporting digital learning resources in a technological university

Maryna Lishchynska, Seán Lacey, Declan O'Connor, Violeta Morari


Service mathematics plays a central role in Munster Technological University (MTU) where the majority of programmes contain at least one mathematics or statistics module. The widely acknowledged issue of low engagement continues to be a barrier to learning for many non-mathematics undergraduates and often results in low achievement which may impact progression. One of the main goals of the SPIRIT Maths project at MTU is to gain insights into learners’ perceptions and dispositions towards mathematics and use that acumen to inform the development of digital learning tools and future interventions. This paper presents some of the findings of a student survey that focused on students’ expectations of and the realities of experiencing mathematics at university, and their views on remote delivery and approaches to learning. The survey results show that many incoming students overestimate the difficulties of studying mathematics at university. The data also highlight how a significant proportion of respondents spend an inadequate amount of time on independent learning. We then consider the aspects of mathematics that learners find most discouraging, and what students report could help them to better engage with and learn mathematics. We also explore students’ preferences for digital learning resources ranging from videos of worked solutions to an online bank of practice questions with feedback.


learning mathematics, non-mathematics undergraduates, perceptions and dispositions, digital learning resources

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