Teaching and Learning Practices in Secondary Mathematics
This three year project, based at The University of Manchester, aims to map secondary students’ learning outcomes, attitudes and choices regarding mathematics, together with the teaching they are exposed to.
The research team is working during the academic year (2011-2012) with 40 secondary schools in England to collect longitudinal data from students and their mathematics teachers, through short on-line (or paper) questionnaires. Case studies are also taking place at the same time.
The topic is very timely since schools are increasingly finding that raising outcomes in mathematics - after some short term 'fixes' have done their work on test scores - requires sustained attention to the quality of pedagogy and to student engagement throughout the secondary experience. The evidence from mathematics education (supported by Ofsted and the NCETM) is that this is because higher levels of student achievement require pedagogy to engage learners. Engagement requires motivation: in mathematics especially there is a need for learners’ mathematics to go beyond procedure-following only, to making connections, engaging with concepts, in discussion and argumentation.
The need to increase participation in mathematically demanding subjects at school is well documented, as is the relevance and importance of mathematics teaching to inspire learners. This has become even more problematic recently, with apparently capable students choosing not to go on to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects in school, in post-compulsory education and training, or in Higher Education.
We believe that there is a wide range of diverse – and often excellent – pedagogy in the school system, and that knowledge of what is happening in classrooms and how this affects learners' attitudes will provide an evidence base for professional development and improvement. The secret to improving classroom pedagogy, student engagement, and learning outcomes is hidden in the system itself; our aim is to extract this knowledge to inform and improve future practice.
(ESRC grant: RES-061-25-0538 "Mathematics teaching and learning in secondary schools: the impact of pedagogical practices on important learning outcomes")
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