Mathematics education as an academic discipline involves systematic research into aspects of the learning and teaching of mathematics at all levels of education. It involves psychological, sociological and philosophical studies, and will be of interest to students who would like to understand better the way human beings think about mathematics and the place of mathematics in society.
The MEC coordinates the mathematics education component of Loughborough's Mathematics with Mathematics Education degree course, which involves modules and a project as detailed below.
Mathematics education modules
Some of our undergraduate students may go on to pursue careers in which the ability to communicate complex mathematical ideas and concepts effectively may be a strong asset. Others may choose to complete their PGCE and follow a career in teaching. The following modules draw on mathematics education research and are available as options on some of the Mathematical Sciences degrees offered at Loughborough.
An Introduction to Mathematics Education
This introductory module includes study of the philosophy of mathematics, mathematical problem solving, strategies and errors in ratio and algebra, the use of language and symbolism, theories that help us to explain mathematics learning, and issues such as gender, race and social justice in relation to mathematics teaching.
Multiple Representations and the Learning of Mathematics
This module includes study of children’s understandings of arithmetic and algebra, and older students’ interactions with definitions, theorems and proofs. It focuses primarily on empirical research studies, and considers standards of evidence in association with different research designs and methods.
Studies in Science and Mathematics Education
For this final-year module, each student spends ten half-days in a school, learning from practising teachers, developing confidence in communicating about mathematics, and carrying out a mathematics-specific project agreed between the student, the school and the module leader.
Mathematics education projects
In the final year, students on the Mathematics with Mathematics Education degree course each undertake a substantial individual project.
This involves close collaboration with a member of academic staff, and often means that the student can conduct an original research study as part of a research team. Projects are closely tied to the research interests of our academic staff, which fall broadly into two research groups:
Mathematical Pedagogy Group
This group has expertise in the analysis of existing pedagogical practice, in the design and evaluation of novel practices, and in the research-based promotion of teaching development.
Students undertaking projects in this area might, for instance, develop and test new educational materials, conduct surveys, interviews or focus-group studies on student experiences of mathematics, or assess the effectiveness of educational interventions involving the use of classroom technologies.
Mathematical Cognition Group
This group conducts research on the psychological processes by which students come to understand mathematical ideas, on numerical cognition in children and adults, and on links between studying mathematics and reasoning skills.
Students undertaking projects in this area might, for instance, design measures of mathematical skills such as diagram interpretation, investigate relationships between mathematical study and the development of logical reasoning, or conduct eye-tracking studies of expert and novice reading of mathematical text.