Proceedings of the Day Conference held at the University of Leicester on 08 Nov 2014
Borthwick, Alison and Harcourt-Heath, Micky
Norfolk Children’s Services
This paper reports on longitudinal research into the calculation strategies used by Year 5 children from 2006 to 2014. It considers not only what proportions of children are successful in these calculations but also examines the range of strategies used and whether these have changed over time. Each of the 5 data sets across the 9 years has included approximately 1000 children from the same group of 22 schools spread across one large UK County.
02 The role of prospective teachers’ mathematical knowledge in recognising students’ understanding: the process of unitising
Buforn, Àngela and Fernández, Ceneida
University of Alicante, Spain
This study analyses the role of prospective teachers’ mathematical knowledge in recognising students’ understanding of the idea of unitising process (as a component of proportional reasoning). 92 prospective primary teachers analysed primary students’ answers to 12 school problems about different components of proportional reasoning. To each problem prospective teachers analysed three answers that showed different characteristics of the development of proportional reasoning. The focus of this paper is on the problem that could be solved by the unitising process. Prospective teachers had to answer 4 questions: a) about mathematics elements in the school problems; b) about the recognition of students’ understanding; c) and d): about how to modify the school problem to support the student’s conceptual understanding. Results suggest that the way in which prospective teachers understood the unitising process influence on (i) what they considered to be the learning objective, (ii) what they recognised as evidence of the primary students’ understanding and (iii) how they modified the school problems to help the primary students to develop the understanding of the unitising process.
The Abacus Club
This study reports the results of a pilot mathematics intervention program carried out over a period of 10 weeks, looking at the benefits of using the Japanese abacus with a small group of underperforming Year 1 children in a UK school. It investigates the rate of progress of children who have participated in the abacus sessions against a control group. Standardised tests at pre- and post-intervention stages are used to examine a number of features of the children’s performance, including computational skills, oral counting, identification of numbers, objects counting and language. The results show that children who participated in the abacus sessions have progressed at an average rate of 40% against the control group of 8%. The intervention group displayed a particularly strong improvement in their computational skills.
Hodgen1, Jeremy; Monaghan2, John; Shen3, Fiona and Staneff4, Tony
University of Nottingham1, University of Leeds2, Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate in York3 and Trinity Academy Halifax4
Two recent mathematics education innovations are the proposal for English mathematics teachers to learn from their Shanghai counterparts and the creation of Maths Hubs (which will organise England-Shanghai exchanges). This session provided three perspectives on the Shanghai initiative. This report summarises the day conference presentations. Our aim in doing this is to encourage constructive and respectful dialogue on government initiatives.
05 A comparative study of mathematics education (ME) beliefs among mathematics curriculum leaders (MCLs) in English and Nigerian schools
University of Cambridge
The beliefs of MCLs in England and Nigeria have received limited research attention despite their relevance to school mathematics. This paper reports part of a study that compared the espoused ME and leadership beliefs of MCLs in Nigeria and England. To infer their beliefs, MCLs from Nigeria and England were interviewed. Responses were analysed using proportions, agreement rates and deductive thematic analysis. Consistent with national cultural expectations, the English MCLs demonstrated a slightly higher proportion of constructivist beliefs than those from Nigeria. The results of this study, in agreement with those of other studies, suggest that mathematics education beliefs appear to resonate with cultural assumptions. They further revealed that certain cultures might encourage individuals’ holding of contrasting beliefs.
06 Investigating approaches to develop secondary mathematics student teachers’ rich mathematical understanding
Manchester Metropolitan University
My research investigated how students on a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course at Manchester Metropolitan University engage in discussions about basic calculation processes. The theoretical foundation is Skemp’s (1976) notions of procedural and conceptual understanding and related research. Through a series of whole class deliberations, informal questioning and semi-structured interviews, my study discovers and attempts to explain shifts in mathematical thinking. The debate considers how the groups’ development of a deeper view of mathematical procedures can enhance learning and it seeks to explore an emerging insight into how our learning as children affects our perception of knowledge and understanding as adults (Costello, 1991). My findings suggest that through revisiting school mathematics from an advanced perspective, the students actually gain much more than merely competence in mathematical procedures. The findings suggest that the students appear to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the underlying mathematical concepts. This relational learning enhances their own conceptual mathematical knowledge and subsequently strengthens their pedagogical awareness.
Livesey, Rosemary and Rempe-Gillen, Emma
University of Leeds
Recent government initiatives and school inspection reports have placed school-based training in the spotlight, and the in-school mentoring of pre-service teachers has become a focus for improvement (e.g. Jones, 2013 and Department for Education, 2013). Research in the field of pre-service teachers’ teaching of mathematics in primary school is our focus, and in this report we explore ways in which this important stage in the development of a primary school teacher can be researched. In particular, we centre our attention on the post-lesson discussions between mentors and pre-service teachers, since these are often the predominant form of interaction that a student teacher has in order to improve his/her teaching. Typically post-lesson discussions do not draw attention to subject-specific targets for the pre-service teacher (Ofsted, 2012 and Thwaites et al., 2005) despite the expectation that in-school mentors do this. We will conduct a mixed-method field study through observations, interviews and pupil assessments.
Following research in school mathematics teaching, there is an increasing interest in recent years in understanding university mathematics teaching and the knowledge that is used to teach in this level. This paper reports an ongoing doctoral study on the teaching of various mathematics lecturers at an English University. I present Teaching Knowledge in Practice (TKiP), a theoretical construct which has emerged from the data through a synthesis related to teaching practice and knowledge. I then exemplify its use to date providing a teaching episode.
09 We need to talk about mathematics: analysing conversations of PGCE primary mathematics specialists
Bath Spa University and University of Bristol
I am in the early stages of doctoral study and am researching what primary mathematics specialists talk about when they talk about mathematics. I have made a collection of conversations over the past year and some of the audio data indicates that these student teachers see ‘maths talk’ as a valuable part of their development in beginning to establish a deep understanding of the mathematics that they teach, what Ma (2010) might call ‘a profound understanding of fundamental mathematics’ (p.125). However some feel that they have different types of conversations about mathematics at school and at university. As we move towards PGCE courses which are primarily school based I question what this holds for the types of ‘maths talk’ that student teachers will have opportunities to engage in.
Manchester Metropolitan University
This study considers whether the pedagogical strategies and techniques conventionally used in modern foreign language (MFL) lessons may be of value in developing mathematical understanding. It aims to explore some of the potential synergies between mathematics and MFL teaching and reports on an intervention with a group of students following a mathematics specialism unit, as part of their BA in primary education. The aim of the taught session described with the student group, was to focus on learning mathematical concepts, related to measurement and scaling, using Spanish as the language for teaching, in order to answer the question: To what extent does the use of a different language medium support the development of understanding of mathematical concepts?
11 ‘It’s a massive confidence boost having your mum or your dad there’: discovering attitudes and barriers to parental engagement in mathematics with school age students
Skyrme, Sue; Gay, Sarah-Jane and Ratcheva, Vesselina
It has long been recognised that parental engagement has a large and positive impact on children’s learning (Desforges and Abouchaar, 2003). But how can we tap into this powerful resource when it comes to the nation’s favourite ‘love-to-hate’ subject – mathematics? While general parental engagement faces large barriers itself – time restraints, parents’ own experiences of school, confidence etc. – parental engagement in mathematics seems to face a whole host of additional barriers including the low level of mathematics skills and high level of mathematics anxiety existing in the UK adult population. In 2013, National Numeracy launched a research project into parental engagement in mathematics. Focusing on areas of deprivation, National Numeracy explored attitudes, experiences and concerns of parents, teachers and students. This paper discusses barriers and recommendations that emerged from this research.
12 An intervention study with children having mathematics learning difficulties with and without comorbid reading difficulties
University of Malta
In this paper I will be presenting the theoretical framework and research methods I have used to collect the data for my PhD study. The study focused on finding effective strategies for helping children struggling with mathematics. The project was carried out with boys in Grade 5 (9 – 10 years old). To identify the learners for the main part of the study a battery of eight assessments was used including standardised tests for numeracy, reading and Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Three children were identified as having mathematics learning difficulties only and three with comorbid difficulties in mathematics and reading. The selected participants then followed an intervention programme based on the Catch Up Numeracy intervention programme. Post-assessment followed to determine whether any progress was made by the learners.
Institute of Education, University of London
The BSRLM affiliation with BERA, through which the BERA special interest group (SIG) ‘Mathematics in education’ is convened, brings with it the opportunity to share research and project outcomes that are regularly seen at BSRLM day conferences with the wider education community. Although ensuring the mathematics education community’s presence at the annual BERA conference is an important part of this affiliation, the BERA SIG also has a small budget with which to convene other activities, events and publications. This Working Group was convened to explore how BSRLM might strengthen its affiliation with BERA through future activities, publications and events.