Online learning tips for excelling in your math and science courses

September 21, 2020 · 7 min read · By ASU Online
STEM occupations are projected to grow 8% between 2019 and 2029 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the STEM field continues to expand and develop more specializations in math and science, skilled professionals are needed to fill the roughly 797,800 new job opportunities that will be created.

Professionals in STEM

As a graduate of our STEM program, you could fill one of those new positions.Earning your degree online enables you to study around your schedule while honing your skill set through interactive coursework and expanding your professional opportunities. However, staying organized and disciplined can be tricky. Here are some tips from our brand ambassadors and online students to help you make the most of your STEM path at ASU Online.


Five tips for online learning success

Benefit from hands-on and adaptive learning techniques

ASU is ranked #1 for innovation and has been for six consecutive years. We understand the importance of modern learning techniques, hands-on education and the value of professors who are top of their field. That’s why we’re constantly improving our methods of online learning and exploring new opportunities for our students.

To offer our online science students the same experience as those on campus, we supplement online STEM learning with accredited lab components, including at-home chemistry lab kits and online molecular biology labs utilizing virtual reality simulations in partnership with Google and Labster.

The lab opportunities we offer span kitchen and video labs, lab kits and digital simulations to provide all levels of online science students with lab experience and exposure.

Adaptive math courseware, such as ALEKS, has helped increase the student success rate by over 20%. The software gives students a pretest to determine what they understand. Then, ALEKS creates a personalized learning path by presenting lessons that continuously adapt to the student. If they forget a concept, the software can recommend remediation and check knowledge retention.

These types of adaptive learning techniques improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills, increase subject mastery and improve instructor insight. Based on the results achieved so far, the adaptive courseware has helped students get better grades on exams by personalizing their preparation.

Learn from our renowned faculty

ASU’s world-class faculty is ranked in the top 10 in the nation for a strong commitment to undergraduate teaching, ahead of Stanford and Yale. Our professors are at the forefront nationally in advancing research and discovery, consistently inspiring new ways of thinking, innovating and solving problems socially, culturally and economically.

Our STEM faculty in particular are world-class engineers, teachers, scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs. Many of them have been honored with the highest awards in their fields and bring diverse experience into their digital classrooms and coursework. For example, faculty teaching courses for the new astronomical and planetary sciences bachelor's degree include astrophysicist Karen Knierman, astrobiologist Ariel Anbar, astrophysicist Nat Butler and astrophysicist Frank Timmes, among others.

Create a stress-free learning environment.

A clutter-free space that’s set up for your coursework makes all the difference when switching gears to focus on your studies.

“Switch up your workspace. When I get sick of sitting at my desk, I move to the living room, or the kitchen table. If I’m REALLY sick of being at my house I’ll go find a new coffee shop to try out and work at,” said Cicily, brand ambassador and online business communication graduate. “A lot of people listen to music or have the TV on. That can be overstimulating and distracting. I love listening to jazz music when I’m doing work.”

Know your resources.

Create a reference sheet of all your course, program and ASU resources for easy access. This can include professors’ emails, advisor contact, tutor information, tech support and any other resource you might need along your educational journey.

“The first thing I do at the beginning of the week,” offered Cicily, “is take out all of my syllabi for my classes and plan everything in my planner...The more I write it down, the easier and better I’m going to remember it.”

Schedule study time.

Scheduling dedicated time each week can help you balance your career and home life with school work; otherwise, you may risk playing catch-up late into the night.

Brand ambassador and online integrative health student, Taylor, said, “Prioritize your assignments by due date. Start your work Monday and set a schedule during the week of completing your assignments. Don’t procrastinate, so you can maximize your weekends and be done with your work by Fridays.”

Taylor also suggested, “Identify the times of day when you do your best work. Note the times of day when it is most difficult for you to work.⁣ Know how many hours you want to work a week.⁣ Know your limit. How many hours a day and week can you work before you burn out? Build your schedule around your personal time cycles and goals.“ “I like to start studying at least a week in advance before my test. I know it’s not always realistic but it’s good to try to give yourself at least a few days to prepare! I split up my studying and only study 1-2 chapters a day. Doing this helps me REALLY retain the information,” said Cicily.

Stay motivated to reach your goal.

Connecting with other online students through discussion boards or social media groups, like Sun Devils Connect, enables you to find your peers and relate with others throughout your studies. If you can create a group that supports each other, you’ll also motivate each other to reach your goals and conquer your courses.

“Clarify your goals and priorities, and make sure you spend most of your time pursuing the biggest goals,⁣” offered Taylor. “Have balance and breaks established each week so burnout does not occur. ⁣I tend to burn myself out very quickly and in order to prevent this, I need to have a life outside my work and premed studies.” “It’s super easy to fall into a rut,” said Cicily. “It’s all about finding balance. Making sure you’re getting out of the house, taking your work elsewhere (like going to a coffee shop or library, or going to study at a friend’s house). It really helps with motivation!”

Use your resources.

Your instructors may not know you‘re struggling. Reach out for help or consider using tutors. Getting the help you need not only makes you a better student, but also aids in building your problem solving and communication skills, which are beneficial in any business environment.

“Both the success coach and academic advisors were crucial to my success as an ASU Online student,” said Jesus, online public service and public policy graduate. “My success coach, Renee, checked up on me and my progress weekly and sometimes multiple times a week to make sure I was mentally healthy and had the right strategies to deal with my course workload.”

Mitzi, an ASU Online student studying nursing, shared her experience, “I am eternally grateful for the dedication, conversations and support that my coaches gave me throughout my educational career at ASU. Amy Gordon, my success coach, helped me when I needed to make many tough decisions. I went through career changes, losing my home, my partner and my beloved dog when I first started at ASU, and Amy helped me sort out difficult choices and was there for me.”

ASU Online sociology and family human development graduate, Charlene, also shared her experience with support services, "Wesley Jackson is literally the best human being on this planet. He was my academic advisor for my entire journey at ASU. He helped me so much to stay on track, always there to answer all my questions and never made me feel like I was bothering him. He scheduled countless calls with me to answer all my advising questions! I will always miss him and his guidance. I also used lots of success coaching throughout my years. They are all there to help. They helped me to juggle staying on track academically through pregnancy, the birth of my son and struggling with postpartum. They were there for all of it to see me to the finish line."

ASU+ personalized support services

In addition to providing tips for online learning success, we offer support services and resources to equip you with tools for a healthy mind and body throughout your college experience. ASU+ is a free suite of unparalleled support services, including personal care, success coaches, tutoring services and career help — all personalized to your needs and available from the comfort of your home.


We’re so excited to share student stories!

Cicily and Taylor are part of our #LearnASULive team, an ASU Online brand ambassador program highlighting students who are earning their degrees while living their lives to the fullest. Want to hear from our other ambassadors, too? Follow the ASU Online Instagram and use the #LearnASULive hashtag across your favorite social channels to browse through them!

Sources: (If there are any sources to reference)
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


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