Trialling the use of a mathematics diagnostic assessment task
Mathematics units often present the greatest difficulty for enabling pathway ('bridging course') students for a wide range of reasons. Many of these students have limited prior mathematics content knowledge, and report, like much of the general population, of feeling phobic towards mathematics and lacking confidence. At the University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA), Fremantle campus, a student's final mark in their mathematics enabling unit often results in failing to meet the institutionally required benchmarks to move into undergraduate study. As staff experimented with a diagnostic mathematics assessment for teaching and learning purposes, a new proposition emerged: Could diagnostic assessment be used to help students make an informed decision about their choice of enabling program, and select a less intense course, without mathematics in the first semester? The benefits in having a student in the 'right course' should improve retention, and increase the number of students successfully transitioning to undergraduate study. UNDA is piloting the use of the diagnostic mathematics assessment to help students select the specific enabling program (either the "Tertiary Enabling Program" (TEP) or "Foundation Year" program) best suited to their background and experience.
McNaught, K. (2012). Trialling the use of a mathematics diagnostic assessment task. In Creating an inclusive learning environment: Engagement, equity, and retention. Proceedings of the 21st Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 2-3 February 2012. Perth: Murdoch University. http://otl.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2012/refereed/mcnaught.html