Dept of Mathematics Education seminar: 23 June 2022

40 mins Presentation + 20 mins Q&ADr. Florence GabrielReducing students’ mathematics anxiety: Professional learning design for grounded actionable knowledge” (University of South Australia) []

Abstract: Affecting upwards of one-third of secondary school students, mathematics anxiety (MA) has a negative impact on mathematics learning. MA also leads to an avoidance of mathematics subjects and can therefore significantly limit the career choices of young people.

To date, responses to the growth of MA in Australian schools have been limited. The reasons for MA are numerous and multifaceted, meaning that simple ‘off-the-shelf’ programs are unlikely to have a meaningful impact. In contrast to this ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, the research project I am presenting seeks to respond to the complex problems presented by MA by building knowledge in ways that are grounded in teacher experiences and actions.

With this project, our aim was to develop and implement a scalable and sustainable intervention to reduce students’ MA by improving their metacognitive skills. The project brought researchers and middle years maths teachers together to understand how MA presents in their specific teaching and learning environment, and how to best respond to those challenges in their specific context. A co-design model was used to develop a professional learning community where teachers took on an active role and worked collaboratively with the research team.

Data were collected to measure students’ metacognitive skills and MA, as well as teachers’ epistemic cognition. Our findings showed that, in these classrooms, MA presented most pressingly as an anxiety towards mathematics assessment. We also showed that the teaching of metacognitive questioning skills in the context of mathematics improved the teachers’ awareness of the importance of flexible strategy usage and its impact on students with mathematics anxiety.

These results allowed us to identify important opportunities for action and demonstrated that pedagogical and curriculum co-design can provide a strong platform for researchers and professionals to take action and together build the kinds of knowledge that improve teaching and learning practice.

40 mis Presentation + 20 mins Q&A:Mr. Paul RowlandsonApplying Interleaving Research in Mathematics” (Durham University) []

Abstract: ‘Interleaving’ and ‘blocking’ are strategies for sequencing study content, which are often described as being opposites of each other. Blocking refers to when content from different categories is grouped together by type (e.g., AAAABBBBCCCCDDDD), while interleaving refers when content from different categories is mixed together (ABCDABCDABCD).  Some research about interleaving has investigated its potential benefits for mathematics practice assignments; other research has investigated its effects on inductively learning to classify images into categories.  The aim of Paul’s doctoral thesis has been to investigate whether interleaving effects found in the latter strand of research also apply to category learning in secondary school mathematics, while also comparing blocking and interleaving with a third alternative strategy: learning through exposition.  This seminar will discuss seminal studies from interleaving research, unpack the nuances behind interleaving effects and share findings from his ongoing doctoral thesis. 

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Ouhao Chen
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