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Southampton Education School

Enhancing mathematics education through classroom resources, professional development and policy

Research undertaken within the Mathematics, Science and Health Education research centre (MSHE) at the University of Southampton aims to improve mathematics education worldwide through the use of classroom resources and teacher professional development.

MSHE researchers have bridged research and classroom practice through the creation of Massive Open Online Courses, the digitisation of seminal mathematics textbooks for secondary education and by influencing policymakers and training course through national teaching initiatives.

Context

Mathematics education researchers in MSHE work closely with teachers, students, curriculum designers and textbook developers to improve mathematics classrooms globally. Collectively, their work is in line with recent policy and practical teaching challenges – for example, the emphasis on the use of high-quality resources such as textbooks, professional development, and learning from mathematics education in Asian countries – which enable better performance in international large-scale assessments. 

Informing Mathematics Education using Asian Teaching Methods and Practices

Teacher with children

The MSHE team created two Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), World Class Maths: Asian Teaching Methods and World Class Maths: Asian Teaching Practice, which drew directly from work by Dr Christian Bokhove on Asian maths teaching.

The courses have influenced professional practice: Of the 12,000 people, mostly teachers, from 140 countries who started the courses, more than 90 per cent of those surveyed said they ‘gained new knowledge or skills by taking the course’ and more than 55 per cent ‘have applied what they have learned’.

Publisher Macmillan confirm the courses have had “concrete impact on teachers and parents across the world, and so also on thousands of children who are learning mathematics”. Macmillan included the courses in the Continuing Professional Development element of their primary mathematics textbook. 

Use of digitised and disseminated School Mathematics Project 2.0 textbooks

Bokhove’s textbook focus of his research has culminated in a project to create a high quality and affordable mathematics textbook series for secondary schools in the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account-funded project ‘Towards a School Mathematics Project 2.0’.

Using the archives of The School Mathematics Project – an iconic project in English mathematics education from the 1960s – Bokhove digitised classroom materials and made them available to mathematics educators in 2019.

More than 1,200 people, mainly from the UK, have since accessed and consulted the books more than 36,000 times.

Those who acquired the books, including mathematics educators, have reported that the digitised materials were used for a variety of purposes, including instruction, lesson/teaching ideas, additional exercises and home-schooling – the latter of which has become especially pertinent during COVID-19.

Impacting mathematics education policy stakeholders

Research by MSHE members Mr Keith Jones, Professor Lianghuo Fan and Dr Charis Voutsina has contributed to curriculum reform in England.

Jones’ book, ‘Key Ideas’ was used in the Department for Education’s (DfE) subject content of reformed GCSEs in their English and Mathematics GCSE content: equality analysis published in 2013. This aimed to assess the impact of new GCSE content in mathematics by reference to the protected characteristics of pupils or students.

In 2015-2016 Fan served on the Department for Education’s national Working Group on Planning and Resources Review and his research and expertise influenced policymaking on reducing workload.

Voutsina has contributed to the National Primary Curriculum for mathematics in England, published in September 2013. Her research was also used in a framework for the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) that guides their work with teachers in schools. The framework has been used to develop primary school teachers’ mathematics pedagogy, and to collaborate with China as part of the DfE’s England-China Exchange programme.

Voutsina’s research has also been integral to the development of materials used as part of ‘Teaching for Mastery’, a national mathematics pedagogy initiative involving 8,000 primary schools – half of all primary schools in England. This focus on Mastery also is part of the work of Rosalyn Hyde, Principal Teaching Fellow in MSHE, with significant contributions to numerous ‘Mastery’ developments.

Key Publications

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