How should we teach maths?

Posted in Teaching on November 23rd, 2016 by steve

Ireland“I’ll be upfront and say that this is how I think we should teach maths: The teacher should chart a course through the subject, explaining key and threshold concepts along the way. Students may not ‘get’ everything at the first attempt but …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 23 November]


Why remembering the rules of maths is important

Posted in Governance and administration, Teaching on October 14th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Just this morning I gave my (third year) students a set of x-y data. During the previous lecture (which was on ultrafiltration) we derived a mathematical model that predicted y=b*ln(a/x) where a and b constants …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 14 October]


Maths, memorisation and understanding

Posted in Teaching on October 9th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Much of the debate around the Leaving Certificate in Ireland centres on the issue of ‘rote learning’. Many commentators will express a desire that education should emphasise ‘understanding’, ‘critical thinking’ and ‘creativity’, the implication being that ‘skills’ like these can be developed in a way that doesn’t involve memorisation of some kind …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 8 October]

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More focus needed on maths in primary school, study finds

Posted in Teaching on September 29th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“A greater focus on maths teaching at primary school may be needed to improve children’s performance at maths, a major study has found. While there has been a significant improvement in maths performance in recent years, the ability of children to tackle problem-solving has emerged as a real concern …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 29 September]

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Time spent on maths at schools varies by more than 100 hours

Posted in Teaching on September 14th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Some second-level school children are getting more than 100 extra hours of maths tuition than others, a new study reveals. The amount of time teenage students spend in maths classes varies hugely depending on the school they attend and the class they are in …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 14 September]

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Failure rate in maths indicates distorted education policy

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on August 25th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Conflicting policies within Government are causing distortions in the higher education access process, adding complexity and even confusion to a system that should be quite straightforward …” (more)

[Dick Ahlstrom, Irish Times, 24 August]

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Maths to be reviewed as 9% fail ordinary, more opt for foundation

Posted in Teaching on August 18th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The teaching and content of second-level maths classes is to come under scrutiny after disappointing Leaving Certificate results. This year’s results saw the return of a 9% failure rate among ordinary-level maths students, as well a big jump in the number of pupils opting to take the more basic foundation-level paper …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 18 August]

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Bruton to take ‘hard look’ at Leaving Cert maths curriculum

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on August 17th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Minister for Education Richard Bruton has pledged to take a ‘hard look’ at the Leaving Cert maths curriculum following a high failure rate among candidates sitting the ordinary level paper this year. Almost 3,000 students failed to secure a minimum of a grade D in the ordinary level maths paper, an increase in the failure rate from 5.8% in 2015 to 9.2% this year …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 17 August]

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Leaving Cert: More than 4,000 pupils fail maths

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on August 17th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“More than 4,000 students have failed their Leaving Cert maths exams, effectively locking them out of many third-level courses which require a pass as a basic entry requirement.Grades in the higher level maths paper have stabilised with more than 70% securing an honour, but the failure rate …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 17 August]

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Higher failure rate in Ordinary level Maths cause for concern

Posted in Governance and administration on August 17th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The long wait is over. Today, some 58,466 Leaving Cert students will find out how they have performed in a landmark exam which may well shape their future career …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 17 August]

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Numbers taking Leaving Cert higher maths climbs to new high

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Teaching on June 8th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“The number of Leaving Cert students taking higher-level maths continues to rise with more than a third of those sitting this year’s exams declaring for the more challenging paper. Some 35% of candidates have registered at higher level, although this is likely due to slip a few percentage points on the day …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien and Éanna Ó Caollaí, Irish Times, 8 June]

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Leaving Cert points bonus may be fuelling failure rate

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on June 6th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“A further increase in the proportion of school leavers aiming to sit higher level maths exams will be watched carefully after fail grades rocketed in recent years. While students are encouraged by the prospect of additional points for college selection if they pass honours Leaving Certificate exams, the introduction of these 25 bonus points has also had some negative effects …” (more)

[Niall Murray, Irish Examiner, 6 June]

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 No wonder girls are anxious about maths

Posted in Teaching on May 23rd, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Last month research was published that reiterated that girls, despite performing well in maths exams, are more anxious about their abilities in the subject than boys. This should come as no surprise given that a number of studies since the 1980s have found that girls perceive their maths ability differently to their male counterparts …” (more)

[Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Irish Times, 22 May]

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Students’ reasons for taking higher maths often don’t add up

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on May 19th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“As our teenagers approach yet another bout of intense psychological stress in the annual slug-fest of the Leaving Certificate, it is encouraging to see an educationalist express grave moral reservations over the 25 bonus points awarded to those students who sit the honours maths paper …” (more)

[Kevin McCarthy, Independent, 19 May]

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All students are equal – it’s time to abolish the 25 bonus points rule

Posted in Fees, access and admissions on May 18th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“CAO application statistics show that the prospect of getting a good job is never far from the minds of applicants. Indeed, in recent years, the Government as well as employer organisations, such as Ibec, has strongly advocated courses in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) as essential for the smart economy of the future …” (more)

[Billy Ryle, Independent, 18 May]

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Students chasing honours maths bonus risk being out of their depth

Posted in Fees, access and admissions, Teaching on April 28th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Students who take higher-level maths in a bid to get bonus points for college are at risk of being out of their depth, a major new report warns. ShareSome students who made the jump to ‘honours’ maths in the Leaving Certificate took the wrong decision, according to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) …” (more)

[Katherine Donnelly, Independent, 28 April]

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Concern at ‘basic skills’ of many Leaving Cert maths pupils

Posted in Teaching on April 28th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Leaving Cert examiners have expressed concern at the lack of basic skills of some students sitting the higher level maths paper. In a report published on Thursday by the State Examinations Commission, it says a significant minority of candidates are struggling to complete simple procedures …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 28 April]

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Irish students well behind world’s best in maths results

Posted in Teaching on March 2nd, 2016 by steve

Ireland“Irish mathematics students are falling well behind their counterparts in high-performing countries, according to a review carried out by the Department of Education. The performance of students at maths has improved, but there is still a significant gap between our best students and those in countries such as China, Hong Kong and Korea …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 2 February]

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22% of Irish 18 to 29 year olds struggle with Maths via @StatistaCharts

Posted in Teaching on February 15th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“One of the most interesting newsletters that I have signed up to, and actually read and enjoy, is the Statista ‘Chart of the Day’ – this is an interesting view of statistics from research and surveys conducted all over the world. One of Statista’s recent reports tells us about ‘The Countries that Struggle The Most With Math’ (see embedded chart below) …” (more)

[Careful With That Axe, Eugene, 15 February]


One in six Irish teens ‘low performers’ at maths

Posted in Teaching on February 11th, 2016 by steve

Ireland“One in six Irish students are classified as ‘low performers’ in maths, according to an international report. The study, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Wednesday, found 17% of students in Ireland struggle with basic maths, 10% are below par in reading, and 11% are low performers in science …” (more)

[Carl O’Brien, Irish Times, 10 February]

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