Project Details

An 18-month University of Otago project to evaluate a numeracy programme aimed at students entering university with low mathematics competency.


The primary aims of the project are to:

  • investigate the numeracy competency of undergraduate students, close to the start of their degree
  • evaluate a pilot intervention programme designed to develop students’ mathematical knowledge, skills and confidence.


The project methodology includes:

  • an online numeracy assessment for students starting a degree programme with a compulsory quantitative component
  • an academic numeracy development programme for students with a low numeracy score
  • use of a growth mind-set model to address affective barriers to learning and improve students’ confidence in learning and using mathematics
  • an evaluation of the pilot to provide efficacy of the intervention
  • tracking student outcomes including engagement, academic performance and progression
  • collecting qualitative data from students, advisers and educators to improve confidence in the quantitative measures of academic performance.


university of otago

Brigid Casey

Project Leader

Otago University Higher Education Development Centre (HEDC)
university of otago

Dr Chris Linsell,

Otago University College of Education
university of otago

Associate Professor Clinton Golding

Otago University Higher Education Development Centre (HEDC).
university of otago

Stewart Hibbert

Otago University Higher Education Development Centre (HEDC)
university of otago

Dr Jon Shemmell

Otago University Brain Health Research Centre


In progress


$30,307.00 (excl GST)

$10,000.00 Regional Hub Project Fund
$20,307.00 University of Otago

Key Findings

Early findings from the research

  • Learner awareness of their numeracy competency assisted them to make the decision to join the Building Academic Numeracy intervention programme.
  • The small cohort of learners in the intervention allowed for individual teaching, collaborative learning, and a friendly, inclusive learning environment.
  • Learners in the intervention became confident and asked questions.
  • The specialist mathematics educator observed that learners developed conceptual understanding and mathematics skills.
  • Educators involved with the quantitative papers in the target academic programme were more aware of the numeracy challenges affecting some learners in the cohort.
  • Academics from another science department requested a small group of learners join the intervention.
  • Regular feedback, reflection, and discussion have informed improvements to the intervention and communication with stakeholders.

Key Recommendations