Seminar | Dealing with the crisis in mathematics

2 September 2010

The Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education (IISME) would like to invite you to a special seminar...

"Dealing with the crisis in mathematics by starting at the beginning" - The recent Review of Education in Mathematics, Data Science and Quantitative Disciplines (commissioned by the Group of Eight Universities and available at confirms that mathematics in Australia is in crisis, with long-term trends of fewer students studying mathematics in high schools and universities, not enough qualified mathematics teachers and the development of negative attitudes towards mathematics by students. Interest, attitude and basic skills in mathematics are formed at the primary school level and it is here that much good work can be done. This special seminar will feature three speakers, and will focus on the benefits that could flow from improvements in the mathematics education of pre-service primary teachers.

Speaker abstracts

Abstract for Jacqui Ramagge: Demand for mathematics and statistics graduates in industry has been growing at a time when the number of students choosing to study mathematics and statistics has been decreasing. As a result, fewer students are choosing to teach mathematics and increasingly children are lucky if one teacher in their school-years is sufficiently confident with their mathematical knowledge to inspire passion in the subject. As mathematicians, educators and academics, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that future generations have the best possible chance of enjoying the beauty of mathematics and the benefits of high levels of mathematical competency. Personally, I contribute to this effort on a number of different fronts. Recently, my work in the mathematical training of prospective primary teachers has received attention. In this talk I will give an overview of the two undergraduate subjects for primary educators that I have developed at the University of Wollongong. I will explain why they are the most challenging subjects I have ever taught and possibly the most challenging subjects the students have ever taken. I will also explain how they help to equip teachers to function as professionals and to inspire children with a love of mathematics.

Abstract for Jenni Way and Janette Bobis: In 2011 the Bachelor of Education (Primary) program at the University of Sydney will introduce a new mandatory unit of study designed to increase our students' mathematical content knowledge while promoting positive attitudes towards the development of their own Numeracy. The new unit will precede three mathematics education units that focus on pedagogical content knowledge (with emphasis on the development of children's mathematical thinking) and on curriculum knowledge. This presentation will outline the underlying principles for the design of the new unit, with the purpose of stimulating discussion about the merits of such approaches to addressing the call for increased quality of mathematical knowledge in teachers. Views on the potential that the situation holds for conducting valuable research will also be sought from the seminar participants.

Speaker profiles

Professor Jacqui Ramagge is Head of the School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics at the University of Wollongong and a member of the Engineering, Mathematics and Informatics panel of the ARC College of Experts. She has been teaching primary teachers at the pre-service and in-service level for over ten years in both Australia and the USA. Last year she led a team at the University of Wollongong in the development of two undergraduate mathematical-content subjects specifically designed for pre-service primary teachers. All of the material associated to the subjects is released under a creative commons license and freely available for other institutions to implement.

Dr Jennifer Way and Associate Professor Janette Bobis are members of the faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney.A/Prof Janette Bobis taught in a range of primary schools for eight years. She has lectured in early-childhood education, computer education, primary-mathematics education and general curriculum studies at the University of Western Sydney, University of Technology and Macquarie University. Dr. Way has taught in NSW primary schools for 13 years before beginning to lecture in mathematics education at the University of Western Sydney. While in the UK from 1998-2000, she was director of the Primary Mathematics Project for Cambridge University and the Royal Institution.

Where and when

Where: New Law Annexe Lecture Theatre 104, University of Sydney (main campus)
When: Thursday September 2, 2010 | 4:00 for 4:30 (light refreshments available from 4:00) - 6:30pm.
Parking: is available in the car park underneath the New Law School. Entry is either from City Road (travelling towards the city, turn into the campus behind the Carslaw building) or from the Main Gate in Parramatta Road (take the road behind Fisher Library). Take lifts 3 or 4 from the car park to level 1 of the New Law Annexe. LT104 is very close to the lifts.
RSVP: Please RSVP below by Thursday 26th August for catering purposes.

We would begrateful if you could bring this seminar to the attention of your colleagues.

Time: 4:30 - 6:30pm (refreshments available from 4:00pm)

Location: New Law Annexe Lecture Theatre 104, University of Sydney (main campus)

Cost: Free

Email: 3a2c32463673104d1316200a63300d3a7f0f20