How does a STEM Access module prepare adult learners to succeed in undergraduate science?

Butcher, John; Clarke, Anactoria; Wood, Carlton; McPherson, Elaine and Fowle, Wendy (2019). How does a STEM Access module prepare adult learners to succeed in undergraduate science? Journal of Further and Higher Education, 43(9) pp. 1271–1283.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877x.2018.1476679

Abstract

This article explores the impact of a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Access module on the progression of students to undergraduate Science. Drawing on the Widening Participation (WP) literature, this research investigated the experience of adult learners from disadvantaged backgrounds taking their first steps into higher education (HE). A mixed methods institutional case study was conducted, drawing on extensive survey data and interviews with students and tutors. Key findings included: enhanced student understanding of how to use tutor support; improvement in the skills and confidence of students in relation to maths, as a result of an embedded interdisciplinary curriculum; and an uplift in student study skills. This study was undertaken in a distance learning context, addressing issues in entry-level STEM, but the conclusions are applicable to other HE settings.

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