Sydney School of Education and Social Work events – 2017 Archive

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The dragon's will


10 May 2017

A presentation by Sydney School of Education and Social Work's CoInEd research network in partnersip with the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre.

Do students in some East Asian countries typically excel at mathematics because of carefully scripted cognitive teaching, or does the valuing of achievement and the will to succeed play a larger part than we think?

This question will be addressed by the head of mathematics education at Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Associate Professor Wee Tiong Seah, 'In Conversation' with Sydney School of Education and Social Work Professor of Mathematics Education Janette Bobis.

The latest results for arguably the two most significant international comparative studies, "Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study" (TIMSS) and "Programme for International Student Assessment" (PISA), were released in December 2016. Despite both studies assessing different aspects of mathematics learning, five of the top seven performing economies in PISA 2015 (Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Singapore) are also the top five performing economies in TIMSS 2015. Together with the other two top performing economies in PISA 2015 – mainland China and Macau (neither of which took part in TIMSS) – these economies have traditionally been associated with the dragon culture. John Jerrim’s analysis of the Australian sample for PISA 2012 also demonstrated how immigrant students from these areas of East Asia attained the highest performance scores despite being schooled in an overseas context.

Dr Seah will argue that the primary reason for the mathematical prowess of East Asian students is the cultural inculcation that impels them to value achievement and nuture the will to excel. Examples from mathematics classrooms and the wider societies in Singapore and mainland China will be shared, to demonstrate how fostering the 'achievement mindset' takes place in these countries, intentionally or otherwise. These will be contrasted against the values being promoted to students in mathematics classrooms within Australia and more broadly in Australian society.

Event details

  • When: 2.30–4pm

  • Where: Room 612, Education Building A35, Manning Rd, University of Sydney
    Education Building A35
    Click image for interactive map.

  • Cost: Free

  • RSVP: RSVP by emailing Dr Yeow-Tong Chia.

  • Contact: Dr Yeow Tong Chia
    T: +61 2 9351 5027

  • Presenter: Wee Tiong Seah is an associate professor in mathematics education at Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, where he is also head of the Department of Mathematics Education. He has been teaching at bachelor, master and PhD levels in both Asia and Australia since 2002. His research interests include comparative research, the role of values in facilitating student learning, STEM education, and the experiences of immigrant and refugee students and teachers in mathematics pedagogy. Previously, Dr Seah has been invited to advise the Australian Government on teaching and learning of mathematics and numeracy in schools. He initiated, – and currently leads – "The Third Wave Project", a 20-nation collaboration that is researching teachers’ and students’ values in mathematics learning in different cultures. Dr Seah has delivered numerous keynote and invitational speeches, most recently at the 2016 International Congress on Mathematical Education. He is member of the editorial boards of several academic journals, including the International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education.

  • Discussant: Janette Bobis is Professor of Mathematics Education and Research Director in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work. She teaches in the areas of primary and early childhood mathematics education and curriculum studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her teaching, research and publications focus on two inter-related areas:

        • teacher learning in mathematics education, particularly knowledge, beliefs and
          practices of primary and middle years teachers

        • student learning, predominantly concerned with their motivation and
          engagement in mathematics and their understanding of estimation and
          mental computation strategies.

  • Co-hosted by: Sydney Southeast Asia Centre
    Sydney Southeast Asia Centre

The dragons' will: The role of valuing and values education in the mathematics achievement of students in some East Asian countries


Room 612

Education Building

University of Sydney


10 May 2017

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