Diversity in numbers: Connecting students to their world through quantitative skills


  • Sarah Etherington Murdoch University https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6589-8793
  • Garth Maker Murdoch University
  • Rebecca Bennett Murdoch University
  • Shu Hui Koh Murdoch University
  • Natalie Warburton Murdoch University


numeracy, diversity, online learning



Student underperformance on quantitative skills (QS, e.g. numeracy, statistics) is an enduring and increasing challenge in the tertiary education sector globally.  A review of science programs across 13 Australian universities suggests QS teaching is often focused on one 100-level units and between 1-3 units later in the degree (Matthews et al., 2012), providing little opportunity for vertical QS development.


The Diversity in Numbers (DiN) project – Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) funded – evaluates an alternative curricular model for numeracy skills development: scaffolded, course-wide implementation of digital numeracy modules with embedded interactive content and rich automated feedback to maximise learning.


Four pilot modules have been developed, each focusing on a core QS concept (e.g. statistical testing, unit conversions) and framed around a published article relevant to unit content, to expand student awareness of numbers as a tool to explore global diversity. This lens is central to the projects’ intention of addressing the ongoing lack of diversity among STEM graduates and within the STEM workforce.


Preliminary data will explore the impact of DiN modules on student engagement (through student feedback and Learning Management System analytics), numeracy anxiety (through pre- and post-module anxiety assessments) and learning (through performance on numeracy-related assessments).


Matthews, K. E., Belward, S., Coady, C., Rylands, L., Simbag, V., Adams, P., Peleaz, N., Thompson, K., Parry, M., & Tariq, V. (2012). The state of quantitative skills in undergraduate science education: findings from an Australian study. Australian Government, Office for Learning and Teaching.

Author Biographies

Sarah Etherington, Murdoch University

Senior Lecturer in Physiology Murdoch University

Garth Maker, Murdoch University

Medical, Molecular and Forensic Sciences

Rebecca Bennett, Murdoch University

Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre

Shu Hui Koh, Murdoch University

Medical, Molecular and Forensic Sciences

Natalie Warburton, Murdoch University

Medical, Molecular and Forensic Sciences