Higher education pedagogy

Colleagues in the higher education pedagogy theme have expertise in a broad range of areas related to the analysis of teaching and learning, with a focus on the tertiary level.

We research the teaching of HE mathematics and statistics, the design of learning resources and assessments, and the development of mathematical expertise.

Our specific aims are:

  • (i) to study different kinds of assessment in mathematics and their consequences
  • (ii) to investigate assessment of conceptual understanding in statistics,
  • (iii) to study the development of mathematical reasoning at the undergraduate level, and
  • (iv) to develop close collaborations with colleagues from different research traditions, especially the philosophy of mathematical practice.

We draw on a wide range of methodological approaches including grounded theory, experimental and quantitative study designs, eye-tracking studies, comparative judgement techniques, international comparisons, social network analyses, and applications of activity theory.


Recent and current research has focussed on conceptual understanding, student comprehension of mathematical proofs, pedagogical content knowledge in higher education, and summative assessment. This work involves close collaboration with institutions across the UK and overseas, including the University of Agder in Norway, Massey University in New Zealand, and Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Colleagues have been involved in various recent and ongoing areas of research. These include using comparative judgement methods for assessing student knowledge in collaboration with No More Marking Ltd. For example, this technique is currently being used to explore research mathematicians' understanding of proof. Research activities also focus on students' meaning making, oral assessment of undergraduates, and teachers' development through the tools such as the Teaching Triad.


The work of the HEP has been supported by numerous funders including the Royal Society, the Nuffield Foundation, the British Academy, the Norwegian Research Council, the Higher Education Aacdemy and AQA.


We have a formal collaboration MatRIC Agreement (pdf) with MatRIC, the Centre for Research, Innovation and Coordination of Mathematics Teaching at the University of Agder, which receives funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. MatRIC is Norway’s leading centre for research in undergraduate mathematics education, and has particular expertise in design research focused on undergraduate mathematics pedagogy.