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Unit information: Children Learning Mathematics - School-based Inquiry in 2015/16

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Unit name Children Learning Mathematics - School-based Inquiry
Unit code EDUCM5304
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Ms. Brown
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

The unit supports participants to conduct a small-scale school-based research project in the area of children's learning of mathematics. Having been introduced to some common research methods used in research in mathematics education, participants visit a local school to investigate some aspect of mathematical learning. As part of the assessment of the unit, students write up and present their project in the form of a conference paper using the format of a leading international mathematics education conference. The increase in weighting will allow participants to work on their research project in more depth. This unit involves each participant working in a local school to carry out a small-scale research project to explore an issue related to children's learning of mathematics. The project is written up and presented as a research paper for assessment.


  • To explore, in the school context, how children develop their knowledge of mathematics.
  • To provide opportunities for observation, reflection and for a small-scale inquiry relating to children learning mathematics.
  • To provide a pilot project to contribute towards work for the dissertation where appropriate or to give experience of actually carrying out a small-scale research project.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After taking this unit, the student should demonstrate that they:

  • have knowledge of a range of important issues related to research in mathematics education
  • have carried out a school-based investigation into an issue, developing practical research skills
  • have developed confidence in design, implementation and presentation of research projects
  • have developed skills in academic writing for refereed conference proceedings.

Teaching Information

The unit begins with 5 classes involving a mixture of reading, writing, discussion and practical activities. Each participant then spends time doing fieldwork in local schools linked with a local teacher interested in a similar research issue. The unit ends with a seminar in which participants give presentations about their research projects. Two tutorials are offered, one during research design and one during analysis of data to consider structure of the final paper.

Assessment Information

Formative assessment tasks include a short piece of writing outlining a research interest, preparatory materials for a research project (e.g., an observation schedule; satisfying ethics requirements) and the production of research data (e.g., transcripts, field notes, …).

Summative assessment is through the writing and presentation of a conference paper based on the guidelines for the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME) (equivalent to a 4000 word assignment).

Reading and References

For this course the following three books will support the developing research skills of participants:

Altrichter, H, Posch, P and Somekh, B (1993) Teachers Investigate their Work, London: Routledge

Brown, A and Dowling, P (1998) Doing Research/Reading Research, a Mode of Interrogation for Education, London: Falmer

Brown, S and McIntyre, D (1993) Making Sense of Teaching, Buckingham: Open University Press