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"Monkey See, Monkey Do, That’s Not Going to Actually Teach You": Becoming a Self-Directed Learner in Enabling Mathematics Units


To explore the mathematics learning experiences of those more likely to come from non-traditional educational backgrounds, ten students studying one or two maths units in the Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies (STEPS) at CQUniversity Australia were interviewed. The aim was to investigate how these students learnt to become self-directed learners during their preparation for their intended undergraduate study. Using grounded theory methodology, data were analysed within the theoretical framework of andragogy, namely, adult learning. Analysis of data indicated that students were able to learn how to become self-directed learners when lecturers ‘tailored’ teaching to the students’ needs, taking into consideration their state of mind, ability to plan their work, developing adeptness at engaging in mathematical activities, and assistance received in evaluating their own learning outcomes. In practice, findings of this study provide some insight into how enabling mathematics lecturers can tailor activities to best meet the needs of their students. Further, the development of self-directed learning skills in the context of mathematics has potential to benefit these students in all their university study.

Published: 2020-03-04
Pages:55 to 65

Author Biographies

Australia Australia

Dr Gemma Mann is a Lecturer in the School of Access Education, Tertiary Education Division at CQUniversity Australia. She teaches Fundamental Mathematics for University, Intermediate Mathematics for University, Technical Mathematics for University, and Introductory Physics in the Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies (STEPS) course and is Access Coordinator for all STEPS students at the Rockhampton North campus providing academic advice and support to students. With a background and PhD in physics and engineering, Gemma’s current research interests centre on mathematics education and student engagement. She is passionate about equity in education and has over 11 years experience in academia and student support enhancing the access and experiences of all students across higher education.

Australia Australia

Dr Julie Willans is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Access Education, Tertiary Education Division at CQUniversity Australia’s Rockhampton North campus. She teaches Essay Writing for University, Technical Writing for University and Preparation Skills for University in the Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies (STEPS) course at CQUniversity. Over the past 17 years, her practice-based research has focused on the application of transformative learning theory in the context of adult learning environments in both enabling education and other non-educational settings. She is passionate about the use of the Hero’s Journey reflective framework as a pedagogical tool in her classroom, and she has disseminated related findings in a number of academic publications and at many national and international conferences. Her research also focuses on strategies to enhance student retention in enabling education, with relevant application to the undergraduate arena; and the construct of the ‘caring’ teacher.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795