Lessons learned from the Best Practice in Mathematics Education Project: Advancing research and practice for student engagement

Year: 2016

Author: Callingham, Rosemary, Anderson, Judy, Geiger, Vince, Goos, Merrilyn, Muir, Tracey, Watt, Helen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Our innovative Panel developed in response to increased pressure for university researchers to partner with industry and drive change agenda forward. Experienced researchers will provide an overview of our research partnership process, and implications for research and practice. This Panel offers: (i)a recount of experiences and challenges in the process of conducting a national partnership study with the Office of the Chief Scientist alongside diverse stakeholders, (ii)diverse quantitative and qualitative empirical findings through the theoretical lenses of student engagement theories. Process. Schools from all States/Territories were included on the basis of identified growth by the OCS in NAPLAN numeracy from 2011—2013 & 2012—2014, Years 3—5 & 7—9. Their goal was for us to collect contemporary data from the field to provide an evidence base for best practice in mathematics education in Australia. A reference group was set up by the OCS, constituted by diverse stakeholders including representatives from school systems administration, policymakers, educators and academic researchers. The researchers were tasked with designing survey measures and case studies to meet this aim.Design. Survey data were collected from students, mathematics teachers, and school leaders, tapping social-cognitive constructs emphasised in prominent motivation theories (achievement goal theory, expectancy-value theory, interest theory, self-determination theory), potent learning environment constructs (classroom goal climate, teacher enthusiasm, school caring), socialisers’ beliefs (teachers, parents, peers), classroom practices, teacher pedagogies, professional development and beliefs, and school-level staffing and curriculum factors, proposed to impact students’ measured mathematical achievement and engagement dimensions. Case studies were conducted in 52 schools across all states, systems and school types, defined as successful in achieving NAPLAN growth in numeracy. Findings. Researchers from different perspectives will discuss influences on students’ engagement in mathematics. Findings suggest successful schools, regardless of their social context, were consistent in their focus on mathematics across the school, in classrooms and among individuals. Mastery approaches associated with reduced costs in terms of students’ perceptions of effort, social costs and mathematics difficulty. Teacher enthusiasm emerged as a key factor. Structure. The themes to be represented (and by whom) are:• partnership process and selection of schools (Callingham);• surveys design (Watt);• case studies design (Anderson);• case studies–illustrative findings (Geiger), issues encountered (Muir); • surveys–illustrative findings (Callingham); • implications for policy and practice (Goos).Issues that arose will provide starting points for interactive discussion.