The evolution of mathematics support: a literature review

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Mathematics support, the provision of additional learning opportunities to, primarily, non-mathematics specialist undergraduates has grown significantly since the early 1990s, particularly in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Alongside the growth in volume of provision, there has been a marked increase in the amount of research and scholarship relating to mathematics support that has been carried out and disseminated. This paper reviews this literature and in doing so identifies areas in which mathematics support has evolved. This evolution has taken place in response to a range of crucial changes in the external policy and general environment and, in particular, in response to the changing nature of the so-called ‘Mathematics Problem’. Key themes that emerge from the literature review, which are explored in detail, are the characteristics of students who engage with mathematics support and reasons why others do not; the role of the mathematics support tutor, who undertakes the tutoring task and how they are trained; the positioning of mathematics support within higher education structures; and the evaluation of the effectiveness of mathematics support.


Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal for Mathematical Education in Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sep 2019


  • Mathematics support, evaluation, impact, literature review