Mathematics Education

Researchers: Cormac Breen; Blathnaid Sheridan
Collaborators: Dana Mackey; Milena Venkova; Mathematics Learning Support Centre (MLSC); Learning, Teaching & Technology Centre (LTTC)

Description of area

Diagnostic testing, the transition to third level education & the impact of the Project Maths curriculum on third level education (Cormac Breen)
There have been significant changes in Irish second level mathematics education in the past decade with the introduction of a new mathematics curriculum entitled Project Maths. This major initiative in mathematics education was introduced as an attempt to improve students' real understanding of mathematical content and help them to engage more in problem solving activities. The shift in emphasis to the style of teaching and learning which is advocated in Project Maths was partially motivated by the well-documented decline in students' basic mathematics skills on entry to third level education over the past two decades. Current research is concerned with investigating the effect, if any, this new curriculum is having on third level mathematics education. In particular we study its impact on third level students' mathematical performance, problem solving ability and beliefs towards mathematics.

Research in the area of mathematics learning support and its role in easing the transition to third level education is also undertaken in association with the Mathematics Learning Support Centre (MLSC).

Diagnostic testing, problem-based learning in mathematics & online assessment (Blathnaid Sheridan)
Diagnostic testing has become a common element of maths support across third level institutions in Ireland in recent years. Current research aims to determine students' mathematical knowledge on entering third level, identify students who need extra support, encourage students to avail of supports and develop meaningful and purposeful resources to help these students. 

Project Maths, the new second level mathematics curriculum in Ireland, has been implemented in the past decade. The effect of and the impact which this new curriculum is having on students mathematical performances and problem solving abilities at third level is the topic of current research. Poor student engagement with mathematics, particularly by students for whom mathematics is not a main component of their main degree, has been well documented as a contributory factor to inhibiting students' progression and development. Further exacerbated by increasing class sizes and increased pressure on lecturer and tutor time, the problem often leads to a reinforcement of a negative experience of mathematics. Current research is being undertaken in the area of assessing mathematics in an online assessment and its role in easing the problems outlined above.

For more information about any of these areas and to discuss opportunities for research please contact the individuals above.