Dept of Mathematics Education seminar: 13 December 2023

40 mins Presentation + 20 mins Q&A: Dr Ella James-Brabham

How do Socioeconomic Attainment Gaps in Early Mathematical Skills Arise? An Exploration into the Home Environment, Executive Functions, and Verbal Ability

(Loughborough) []


Socioeconomic attainment gaps in mathematical skills emerge before children begin school, and widen over time. Little is known about why early attainment gaps emerge. I will discuss my PhD research which aimed to identify child-level and home-level factors that may explain SES attainment gaps, focusing on: frequency of home mathematical, inhibitory control, working memory, and verbal ability. These factors were chosen because previous research has found they relate to early mathematical ability, and show socioeconomic gradients. We found that differences in inhibitory control and verbal ability may, in part, explain how these socioeconomic differences arise. Working memory did not appear to explain socioeconomic disparities but did emerge an important factor for early mathematical ability. Frequency of home mathematical activities did not explain socioeconomic attainment gaps in mathematics. In the empirical research, frequency of home mathematical activities did not relate to mathematical ability, but when systematically reviewing the field as a whole, a small positive relation was found. I will discuss specific ways the field can move forward to better understand the role of the home mathematical environment in early mathematics, focusing on widening the lens to look beyond frequency questionnaires, as well as establishing causal relations.

40 mins Presentation + 20 mins Q&A: Prof. Jenni Ingram

Generalising with and from examples: interactions around establishing whether an equation is always, sometimes or never true

(Oxford University) []


In this seminar I will share extracts from different classrooms all considering whether x+y= xy is always, sometimes or never true. Using a conversation analytic approach I examine how examples and generalisations are treated by teachers and students within these interactions. This analysis reveals the different ways that students experience the use of examples in mathematics and the implications of this on what they might learn about reasoning, justifying and proving in relation to the role of examples in generalisation.

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Krzysztof Cipora
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