Prof Tony Croft
Emeritus Professor of Mathematics Education
Tel +44 (0)1509 22 3185
Location SCH.m.09 (Schofield Building)
Tony studied for his first degree in Mathematics at the University of Leeds, graduating with First Class Honours in 1981. He then undertook research work there in Geophysical Fluid Mechanics, under the supervision of Professor John Brindley, leading to the award of M.Phil in 1984. He taught mathematics at Peel VIth form College in Bury before joining the staff of Crewe+Alsager College of Higher Education (later part of Manchester Metropolitan University) where he taught mathematics to prospective mathematics teachers. It was during this period that his love of academic writing began to flourish in collaboration with the then Head of Mathematics, Derek Hart. Also during that time he was a part-time student at Keele University, under the supervision of Professor Douglas Quinney, and was awarded a Ph.D. in 1990 for research work in numerical analysis. From 1988 he taught in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montfort University, Leicester). In 1996 he moved to Loughborough University to establish and manage its Mathematics Learning Support Centre. Since then he has devoted much of his time and effort to championing the cause of the many undergraduates, from all discipline areas, that find university-level mathematics and statistics particularly challenging, informing policy as well as developing resources and student support mechanisms that are now in use in many universities throughout the UK and beyond. He has been a vigorous advocate of raising the status of university-level teaching.
In 2002, he became founding Director of the Mathematics Education Centre at Loughborough University which is home to arguably the UK's leading group of mathematics education researchers. In 2005 the Centre (in collaboration with the Mathematics Support Centre at Coventry University) was awarded Centre for Excellence status by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in an initiative known as sigma - the Centre for Excellence in University-Wide Provision of Mathematics & Statistics Support. Tony was one of the two Directors of sigma. In 2008 he was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in recognition of his pioneering work in the field of mathematics support for students. In 2011 he, along with his long-time collaborator Professor Duncan Lawson, was awarded the Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Support for Students. sigma has since evolved into the sigma network for excellence in mathematics and statistics support. With funding from HEFCE for the period 2013-2016 the network has become a thriving community of like-minded professionals all keen to better the support and resources provided for students of all disciplines who need to study mathematics or statistics whilst at University. The resource base for the network is freely available and open to all students and staff at www.mathcentre.ac.uk.
Tony is the co-author of numerous long-standing and highly successful mathematics textbooks including Engineering Mathematics (5th Edition), Mathematics for Engineers (4th Edition) and Foundation Maths (6th Edition). He has co-edited the book Transitions in undergraduate mathematics education: written to meet the needs of university lecturers, teachers and tutors this book forms a guide to understanding key issues, good practices and developments in learning and teaching in mathematics within higher education. A must for all new university mathematics lecturers.
Tony, together with Professor Lawson, was awarded the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications Gold Medal 2016 in recognition of his "outstanding contribution to the improvement of the teaching of mathematics".
In 2017, Tony became Emeritus Professor of Mathematics Education and continues to take an active role in the development of teaching and learning resources for university-level mathematics, and is a collaborator on numerous higher education projects at universities around the UK and beyond.
Tony's research has been focussed upon mathematics education in the higher education sector. Much of this work has been concerned with students making the transition to university-level mathematics and the support required to help them succeed. More recently he has become interested in other points of transition, where students experience difficulty applying or developing their mathematical knowledge, or adapting to changed learning methods and processes during their higher education studies. He has led and researched the SYMBoL project (http://sym.lboro.ac.uk) - an initiative, funded by the National HE STEM Programme, designed to improve the experience of second year undergraduate mathematicians by engaging students themselves in aspects of the design and delivery of modules. Publications from this project include:
- Solomon, Y., Croft, T., Duah, D. & Lawson, D., (2014) Reshaping understandings of teaching-learning relationships in undergraduate mathematics: An activity theory analysis of the role and impact of student internships, Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 10.1016/j.lcsi.2014.08.001, Vol. 3, pp323-333.
- Duah, F.K., Inglis, M.J., Croft, T., (2014) Can peer-assisted learning be effective in undergraduate mathematics. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science & Technology, DOI:10.1080/0020739X.2013.855329.
He has undertaken, collaboratively, numerous studies associated with mathematics support in higher education, and recent publications include
- Grove, M., Croft, T., Lawson, D., Petrie, M. (2018) Community perspectives of mathematics and statistics support in higher education: the role of the staff member. Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/teamat/hrx017.
- Grove, M., Croft, T., Lawson, D., Petrie, M. (2017) Community perspectives of mathematics and statistics support in higher education: building the infrastructure. Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA. DOI: https://https://doi.org/10.1093/teamat/hrx014.
- Perkin, G., Croft., T., Lawson, D. (2013) The extent of mathematics learning support in UK higher education - the 2012 survey. Teaching Mathematics and its Applications. Volume 32, No 4. pp165-172.
- Solomon, Y., Croft, T., & Lawson, D. (2010) Safety in numbers: mathematics support centres and their derivatives as social learning spaces. Studies in Higher Education. 35 (4) DOI: 10.1080/03075070903078712.
Around the world he has collaborated with colleagues who, like him, have a passion for addressing the “mathematics problem” and enhancing the quality of the student experience. He has worked with colleagues who were establishing the Irish Mathematics Learning Support Network, the Scottish Mathematics Support Network and in 2009 he visited and worked with academics in Australia (University of Sydney and Queensland University of Technology, QUT) to further the development of mathematics support there. He has been the catalyst for the development of support centres in Norway, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and elsewhere. Through his work with Professor Helen MacGillivray (QUT) he has highlighted the need for more research into the efficacy and better evaluation of mathematics support:
- MacGillivray, H., & Croft, T. (2011) Understanding evaluation of learning support in mathematics and statistics, International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science & Technology, Volume 42, Issue 2, March 2011, pp189-212.
- Matthews, J., Croft, T., Lawson, D., Waller, D., (2013) Evaluation of mathematics support centres: a literature review. Teaching Mathematics and its Applications. Volume 32, pp173-190.
Tony has singly or jointly supervised five successful mathematics education PhD students: Dr Glynis Perkin, Dr Nina Attridge, Dr Sarah Parsons, Dr Francis Duah, and Dr Eirini Kouvela.
He is a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology (http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tmes20/current) and is regular referee for Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, An International Journal of the IMA.
Tony has worked with Janette Matthews and Clare Trott on the development of a MOOC (Massive Open On-Line Course) for the Future Learn platform. The MOOC – Getting a Grip on Mathematical Symbolism was designed for those students who aspire to study engineering or science at university and who needed to develop a strong foundation in basic mathematical methods. It ran successfully seven times between 2014 and 2017 with thousands of students benefiting from this carefully-paced introduction to the mathematics needed for the study of engineering and science at university.