The quantitative skills deficit
Improving policy and practice in HE mathematics and statistics support to enhance learning worldwide
Many students embarking on STEM or social sciences undergraduate programmes are not always fully prepared for the mathematical demands of their course. This problem has been identified as a “quantitative skills deficit”.
We have developed the Loughborough Model – physical learning centres combined with high-quality online resources – to support these students and ensure they achieve their potential.
The Model has led a step-change in institutional policy and practice which has positively impacted student retention, attainment and satisfaction – worldwide.
Global impact – Mathematics Support Centres (MSC) established worldwide
- >60% adoption across British and Irish HEIs
- 2015 – University of Agder, Norway
- 2016 – Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Online support – since 2014
- 1.7M unique browsers pa
- 69M hits pa
- Accessed from >118 UK universities
- One study found that students who use MSC are 1.63 times more likely to pass a module than those who do not – regular users were almost 14 times more likely to pass
- 83% of MSC users find them “worthwhile” or “extremely worthwhile”, and 56% believe the support has had a positive impact on their achievement
Our early studies – published 20 years ago – highlighted the extent of the quantitative skills deficit and explored the type of support students considered would best benefit their learning.
Based on these findings, we began to design, evaluate and deploy online resources and face-to-face support – and the Loughborough Model came into being.
Two websites – mathcentre.ac.uk and statstutor.ac.uk – were launched in 2003 and can be accessed worldwide. They provide videos and written resources tailored to students’ degree programmes and needs.
Meanwhile, we established a Mathematics Support Centre in Loughborough, providing students with resources, computing facilities, opportunities for peer-assisted learning, and drop-in advice from staff.
By 2006, this provision had expanded to two large campus-based Mathematics Support Centres. In collaboration with Coventry University, we used HEFCE funding to establish sigma which disseminates our approach to mathematics support and shares best practice.
The Loughborough Model has evolved over time, and research is ongoing to further enhance its success. It has been adopted by institutions across the UK and overseas, supporting thousands of students worldwide.
450,000 STEM and social sciences students join UK HEIs each year
Regular users of MSC are ≈14 times more likely to pass modules than those who do not
- Higher Education Academy
- Learning and Teaching Support Network
- Coventry University