Assimilating transformative learning amongst a diverse cohort of enabling mathematics students
A paradigm shift in higher education is occurring – internationally, universities are changing the focus of their undergraduate degrees, increasing enrolments and broadening participation. As a result, non-traditional students who would once have been excluded from university studies are now being accepted. Given the vast social and educational diversities of these students, how do we, as educators, prepare them for undergraduate study? Transformative learning is described as the process of changing the frame of reference that defines an adult’s world. Many students entering university through non-traditional means have decreased mathematical confidence and a diminished perception of mathematics and their mathematical ability. Previous studies have indicated that student confidence in their mathematical ability is important and has a direct impact on their grade. Preparatory mathematics courses that follow adult learning principles can both provide content knowledge and increase confidence whilst catering to the diverse social and educational backgrounds these students. A study conducted by CQUniversity Australia (CQU) examining students’ mathematical confidence prior to and after completing at least one Transition Mathematics course, found students reported a reduction in their fear of mathematics and increased mathematical confidence.