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Personalised Emails in First-Year Mathematics: Exploring a Scalable Strategy for Improving Student Experiences and Outcomes

Abstract

Widening participation initiatives in higher education have grown overall student numbers while also increasing the diversity of student cohorts. Consequently, enhancing student experiences and outcomes has become increasingly challenging. This study implemented personalised emails in two first-year mathematics courses as a scalable strategy for supporting students with diverse needs. Impact on student experience and outcomes was assessed through surveying and statistical comparisons to previous cohorts. It was found that students perceived the personalised emails favourably and believed the intervention would contribute to them achieving better grades. This translated to a statistically significant improvement in both student experience and academic performance in one of the courses. The results imply that personalised emails are well-suited to courses taken in students’ first semesters of university study, aiding those transitioning to the higher education environment by fostering feelings of belonging, supporting effective engagement, and easing navigation of university systems and processes.

Published:
Section: Online First
0 citation(s) in Scopus
0 citation(s) in Web of Science

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Author Biographies

Queensland University of Technology
Australia Australia

Sarah Dart is a Lecturer working across the Learning and Teaching Unit and Science and Engineering Faculty, with a background in mechanical engineering and numerical modelling. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her impact on student learning has recently been recognised with citations from both the Australian Awards for University Teaching and Australasian Association for Engineering Education. Her research interests are in STEM education, student success, and learning analytics.

Queensland University of Technology
Australia Australia

Belinda Spratt is a Lecturer in the School of Mathematical Sciences at Queensland University of Technology. Belinda uses a blended and online learning approach to reduce mathematics anxiety when teaching mathematics service classes. Belinda is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and received the 2019 Australian Mathematical Society Award for Teaching (Early Career) for her approaches to reduce mathematics anxiety.