Mathematical pathways for students articulating to Business degrees

Debbie Wills, Sue Kilpatrick, Robin Barnes, Colette Rhoding, Steve Allen, Maureen Hague, B. Jones, Christopher McGimpsey


Australia needs more qualified professionals in the STEM areas. The national focus on widening participation in higher education (HE) includes strengthening pathways from vocational education and training (VET). VET students often lack the mathematics skills necessary to articulate successfully to their chosen degrees. Maths anxiety has been identified as a barrier to success in Business degrees in particular (Joyce, Hassal, Jose, Donose & Jose, 2006), highlighting the need for maths knowledge and support for students transitioning to these degrees. Of particular concern are those students who might be potentially less prepared for the transition, such as VET students. This project is part of a larger Office for Learning and Teaching grant focusing on developing contextualised pathways for four different disciplines (education, engineering, business and health science). The business pathway mapped mathematics topics covered in VET units associated with business qualifications at Certificate 3, 4 and Diploma level foundation level units to the base level maths knowledge required at the University of Tasmania and the University of Notre Dame Australia for completion of first year quantitative methods units.

From this mapping, a set of online modules were developed to support students during their VET qualifications with foundation level skills, and fill the mathematics gap between VET and HE. These modules were also designed to provide support to first year business students, and assist them in completion of the quantitative methods units required in first year Bachelor of Business Degrees. The pathway developed has seven modules; two foundation level modules, three transition level modules and two providing resources for support through HE quantitative methods. For the first five modules, a pre-test determined whether a student needed to complete the module and a post-test (self-assessed) was developed to test the students’ knowledge after completing the module lessons, practice tasks and exercises. The project has recently concluded, and the pathway to business has now been active for 4 months during which it has been offered to first year business students at the University of Tasmania to trial. Successful completion of the module post-tests has been endorsed by the University of Notre Dame Australia’s School of Business for entry into the program for students with tertiary maths.

This presentation describes the process of the business pathway development and the opportunities for cross sectoral course support and delivery.


Joyce, J., Hassall, T., Arquero M., José L., Donoso A., & José A., Communication apprehension and maths anxiety as barriers to communication and numeracy skills development in accounting and business education, Education & Training 48.6 (2006): 454-464.

Proceedings of the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, Curtin University, Sept 30th to Oct 1st, 2015, page X, ISBN Number 978-0-9871834-4-6.

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