Increasing mathematics confidence/competence of mathematics teachers and participation of girls in maths with the ChooseMATHS program

Year: 2016

Author: Watt, Helen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Research on the effect of gender on mathematics education and mathematics-related employment has focussed on performance and participation. In the Australian context longitudinal results indicate a large difference in participation rates of boys and girls especially at the higher levels of mathematics and during the last years at school while differences in performance are not as prominent. The BHP Billiton Foundation and the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) have formed a partnership to design and deliver the ChooseMATHS program over five years. ChooseMATHS aims to increase the participation of women in mathematics and STEM areas throughout their school years, their tertiary education and in the mathematics and STEM-related workforce through focused activities in schools, career awareness, women-in-mathematics networks and mentoring.An important aspect of the ChooseMATHS program is the increase in mathematics confidence and competence of teachers and an increase in their ability to motivate girls in pursuing mathematics and mathematics related disciplines. ChooseMATHS works with 120 schools across Australia: 30 secondary schools with 3 feeder primary schools each. The ChooseMATHS activities in schools focus on modelled lessons, planning sessions, professional development, career events and intervention for specific school years. In order to assist the schools and measure their progress in increasing their mathematics confidence and competence, regular surveys of all teachers involved in teaching mathematics are carried out throughout the life of the project. The initial teacher surveys have established benchmarks and needs of schools.Analysis of the survey results using modern multivariate statistics methods – such as variable selection -- will determine which quantities are most likely to result in improvements. These analyses combined with the ChooseMATHS gender-based research on intervention addressing participation of girls in mathematics and STEM disciplines will inform the focus and direction of the schools program which will be rolled out to all Australian schools.