1 Introduction and Evaluation Approach 3. 2 Trends from the skills audit Trainees Teachers and mentors 4. 3 Qualitative findings 4

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2 Final evaluation report June 2009

3 Contents 1 Introduction and Evaluation Approach 3 2 Trends from the skills audit Trainees Teachers and mentors 4 3 Qualitative findings Increased confidence in the teaching of mathematics Improved practice in the teaching of mathematics Greater collaboration Improving children s perceptions of mathematics 6 4 Summary and long term impact 7 2

4 1 Introduction and Evaluation Approach This report presents the findings of the Evaluation of the Inspiring Mathematics Champions (IMC) programme. IMC was developed by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) to support achievement in primary mathematics, and was funded by Yorkshire Forward. Twenty-four trainee teachers from Leeds Metropolitan University and York St John University were offered the opportunity to engage with the programme and a network of educational professionals, comprising the following: NCETM Associates, University tutors and primary school teachers. The aim of the evaluation was to assess and report on the progress of IMC against its short and medium term objectives. These were: To increase trainee, teacher and tutor confidence in the teaching of mathematics within the partnership; To improve trainee, teacher and tutor practice in the teaching of mathematics within the partnership; To encourage greater collaboration between trainees, teachers and tutors within the partnership; To positively impact on children s perceptions of mathematics. The evaluation consisted of four key components: 1) A pre and post-intervention skills audit, completed by teachers and trainees in the partnership; 2) Interim and post-intervention qualitative interviews and focus groups with trainees, teachers, mentors and University tutors - a total of eight teacher trainees, six class room teacher, six mentors and three tutors were consulted; 3) Case studies of two primary schools within the partnership to assess impact on children s perceptions of mathematics; 4) A systematic review of evidence from trainee collaboration logs. 2 Trends from the skills audit In order to quantitatively measure changes in confidence over time, a self-completion skills audit was completed by all trainees before the project, September 2008, and at the end of the project, July The skills audit focused on four key areas: content knowledge, using and applying mathematics, ideas in mathematics and relevance of maths. 2.1 Trainees Content knowledge Results from the pre-intervention trainee skills audit reported that 13 per cent of trainees felt fairly or very confident that they were familiar with recent developments in mathematics education and could participate in discussion of such issues, this percentage significantly increased to 91 per cent by the end of the project. Confidence in possessing a sound knowledge of number measurement and data handling also increased, with the most substantial rise in confidence for shape and space, which increased from 58 per cent to 100 per cent. Using and Applying Mathematics Prior to their involvement in IMC, around half of the trainees felt not very confident or not at all confident about knowing how to help pupils to refine and develop their understanding of: number; shape and space; measurement; and data handling. The post-intervention skills audit showed that over 95 per cent of trainees were now fairly or very confident in these areas. The percentage of trainees who were fairly or very confident that they were familiar with a range of teaching strategies that lead to successful mathematical teaching increased from 58 per cent to 91 per cent at the end of the project. Furthermore, the percentage of trainees who were confident in knowing how to ensure that pupils make appropriate connections between different mathematics concepts increased from 56 per cent to 100 per cent. 3

5 Ideas in mathematics and creative approaches The percentage of trainees who were fairly or very confident at integrating problem-solving activities with the development of mathematics concepts significantly increased from 38 per cent to 91 per cent. With confidence in knowing how to provide opportunities for students to communicate their mathematics knowledge and understanding in different ways increasing from 46 per cent to 100 percent, and knowing how to and when it is appropriate to promote student appreciation and positive perceptions of mathematics from 63 per cent to 96 per cent. The percentage of trainees who were fairly or very confident to be creative with your approach to teaching mathematics also increased from 67 per cent to 100 per cent. Relevance of mathematics and cross-curricular approaches Finally, confidence increased with regards to using cross-curricular techniques to teach mathematics. The percentage of trainees who felt confident that they knew how and when to communicate how mathematics contributes to the development of understanding in other subjects increased from 42 per cent to 86 per cent. In addition, rates of confidence to enhance pupil understanding by contextualising mathematics using other subjects increased from 46 per cent to 96 per cent. 2.2 Teachers and mentors On the whole teachers and mentors felt much more confident about their practice in teaching mathematics. A lower response rate was obtained for the post-intervention phase with only six matching pre and post-intervention data sets achieved. Key areas of impact are outlined below. For 5 out of the 6 respondents, their confidence increased in two key areas: Enhancing pupil understanding by contextualising mathematics using other subjects; Being creative in the approach taken to teaching mathematics. For 4 out of the 6 respondents, their confidence increased in two more key areas: Accommodating lessons to the range of ways that pupils learn best in mathematics; Integrating problem solving activities with the development of mathematics concepts. 3 Qualitative findings 3.1 Increased confidence in the teaching of mathematics The trainees attended four one-day workshops in the autumn term of which involves participants in a number of tasks designed for active engagement in mathematics. The trainees consulted reported that the interactive and practical nature of these sessions, along with the opportunity to model the IMC activities and approach, were key to increasing their confidence. The workshops not only provided them with insight into how mathematics can be taught in an active and engaging way, they also presented an opportunity to discuss and refine ideas with peers and educational professionals in a supportive and encouraging environment. Furthermore, the workshops allowed trainees to develop confidence in their approach before undertaking their placements, and provided enough time to include what they had learnt into their planning. The placements, in turn, allowed the trainees to discover what worked well or not so well by putting their training into practice. School-based observations conducted by IMC mentors whilst the trainees were on placement also helped to boost confidence, providing constructive feedback and targets, and acting as a useful reflective tool. 4

6 Classroom teachers and school-based mentor teachers also had the opportunity to attend the workshops. The teachers consulted found that one of the highlights has been a renewed confidence to work more flexibly and creatively with the national curriculum. It enabled me to approach maths in lots of different ways and through different subjects. I feel more confident with maths for older pupils now. [Year 1 teacher and mentor] The tutors consulted were also positive about the confidence and engagement displayed by the trainees. This was demonstrated and bolstered when both had the opportunity to attend the Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) Conference through IMC, where trainees conversed with experts about their teaching practice. 3.2 Improved practice in the teaching of mathematics All of the participants consulted felt that the different approach to mathematics teaching explored at the workshops had inspired them with new ideas and impacted on their practice in teaching mathematics in a positive way. The workshops were key in influencing this change in practice, providing a forum to engage with professionals and explore different ways of putting mathematics ideas across to children. In particular, trainees said that IMC has inspired them in a range of ways: to think about they way they structure their lessons; to creatively use resources to demonstrate mathematics; to experiment with different activities; to use cross-curricular approaches to help explain and develop mathematics ideas; and to encourage children to form their own questions and take a more practical approach to exploring mathematics. These all, in turn, combine to make lessons a memorable experience for the children. It has helped me in all subjects to think about the way I use questions, before I would give out worksheets, but now I have more confidence to make maths more creative and more interesting. [Teacher trainee] It s changed the way I think about the whole structure of the lesson, and made me question things, such as why we don t do things differently and is there an end to a lesson? [Teacher trainee] It s makes you more creative and the pupils don t see it as learning, I ve used less [sic] worksheets and they get more out of it. [Teacher trainee] Evidence from the collaboration logs supported this, indicating that trainees had learnt about: the wide variety of approaches that there are to a task; the effectiveness of using real life contexts; how mathematics can be fun; how tasks are interpreted differently by different pupils, in turn leading to an increased understanding of different learning styles; how tasks can be adapted for different ages; how mathematics can be active; how effective even the simplest of resources can be, such as number cards; how mathematics does not have to be about writing things down; and how to use resources effectively to meet learners needs. In particular, trainees now felt comfortable with not necessarily having all the answers and taking a more open-ended approach to questioning so as to help children lead their own learning. Trainees also found that by actively thinking through new approaches their subject knowledge improved: My subject knowledge has improved without me even realising it, in a sneaky way, through thinking about how to work things out [Teacher trainee] In terms of implementing the IMC philosophy whilst on placement several barriers were identified by trainees: challenging behaviour; Year 6 SATS revision; the rigidity of the curriculum; pupils not being accustomed to doing practical, hands-on activities; lack of awareness in the placement schools regarding the objectives of IMC; and IMC principles conflicting with the university course assessment criteria and school policies. However, they agreed that what they have learnt is more about the ethos than implementing activities. 5

7 The evaluation found that the level of impact that IMC had on teachers involved in the partnership depended on how engaged they had been with the programme. The greatest professional development was reported by those teachers who had been able to attend at least one or two workshops. They said IMC has given them new ideas for activities and approaches, where these ideas can fit into the curriculum, and also made them think about using more open-ended approached to questioning and problem-solving. It got me thinking about when group work is appropriate and how it may not be the most effective set-up for all pupils in all situations. [Class teacher] They also found that the opportunity to discuss recent developments with peers, trainees and experts, helped to refresh, update and challenge their thinking. This also impacted on the professional development of the tutors, who felt that working within the IMC network had revitalised their thoughts on the practice of teaching mathematics. 3.2 Greater collaboration It is evident that engaging a network of trainees, teachers, mentors, tutors and maths specialists has set in motion a greater collaboration within the partnership. All have particularly valued the increased opportunity for discussion and debate about the teaching of mathematics, to critically reflect on their teaching practice, and the sharing and generation of ideas. Trainees and tutors also reported an increased level of information sharing amongst peers and colleagues. Furthermore, the IMC online community provided an extra sounding board for the sharing of ideas, good practice and resources. This was found to be particularly useful once the trainees were on placement. Trainees also benefited from the responsiveness of tutors and mentors, both via and online posts, in providing instant feedback, support and advice. Trainees highlighted the benefit gained from collaborating with real teachers, drawing on their practical experience, and helping them to think about how to tailor it to different classes. Teachers and mentors felt that the collaboration enabled them to see the real picture of how, and at which level, trainees are working. Therefore, for those trainees and teachers who attended workshops together, it was felt that the in-school experience was improved. Consultation with trainees, teachers and tutors highlighted that engagement with class teachers and school based mentors in the partnership had not always been as consistent as was initially planned. Two key issues were identified: the first was a lack of awareness within some schools as to the aims and objectives of the IMC programme; and, secondly, the difficulties experienced by teachers to take time away from school to attend external events. Suggestions from trainees, teachers and tutors to strengthen the effectiveness of collaboration with schools were: improved communication, for example, sending introductory packs to the head teacher, class teachers, maths coordinator and student mentor at the beginning of the project; improving workshop accessibility for teachers, by for example, varying the times and days of the week when events are held; linking trainees with placement teachers from the start of the project; involving more schools at the launch stage; and holding some workshops in schools themselves. 3.4 Improving children s perceptions of mathematics The impact of IMC upon pupils perception of mathematics was explored through case studies of two placement schools. Two focus groups were conducted with groups of 4-5, Key Stage 2, pupils in each school, supported by interviews with the placement trainee and class teacher. Analysis of the impact on pupils was further supported by evidence from trainee s collaboration logs. The pupils consulted reported enjoyment of the lessons delivered by the IMC trainees and mentors, and gave many examples of activities that had been particularly engaging. They reported feeling more actively involved in lessons delivered by the trainees which often involved getting up out of their chairs, swapping seats, sitting in a circle and using spaces outside of the classroom: 6

8 We pushed the tables aside and sat in a circle, we all had a number and had to swap places if your number was in the times table. We liked it because it was fun swapping seats and we didn t even realise that we were finding out about numbers. [Pupil, Key Stage 2, talking about the Being a Number activity from Workshop 1] Common threads running through their discourse were different, fun, a challenge and more games. They also enjoyed the use of dominoes and cards. Pupils also commented that they were motivated by an emphasis on not always about getting it [the answer] right and being able to just have a go at it. There was one where we had to do a frog puzzle. I liked it because it challenged me to find different ways to do it. [Pupil, Key Stage 2] Sometimes you don t even realise you are doing maths, [teacher trainee] does lessons where we ve learnt some thing but we don t realise it because it s fun. [Pupil, Key Stage 2] Collaboration log evidence and interviews with teacher trainees were also positive about the impact on pupil perceptions of mathematics. Trainees felt that because IMC had challenged their own take on the subject it had made them more positive role models for the children, and further challenged the children s perceptions of what mathematics is. As one trainee commented, if I find maths more fun it will definitely encourage the students. Increasing the enthusiasm towards mathematics also allowed children to fully succeed and learn a topic and to develop their thinking even further. The children really enjoyed the problem-solving/trial and error activities. They almost saw it as a competition and that appealed to their learning style. It motivates the children to complete their work to a high standard. [Trainee teacher] The children didn t get as bored as easily and didn t go off task because it wasn t just about answering questions and it makes it more individualised. [Trainee teacher] 4 Summary and long term impact It is evident that the engagement of teacher trainees with a programme of innovative workshops and a network of educational professionals has had a positive impact on both their confidence in, and practical application of, the teaching of mathematics. Many wider impacts are also evident in terms of the professional development opportunities the programme offered to the teachers, mentors and university tutors who engaged in it. Furthermore, IMC-inspired lessons were received positively by the children who were engaged in them. Beyond the direct impact of the programme on the participants, there is also some evidence of broader, long-term effects. Trainees feel that the impact of their experience will grow when they start their first teaching post, as they will arrive as more confident teachers, with lots of new ideas to share at the school. As one trainee commented, that s when it will really be effective. Furthermore, trainees are in no doubt that, by implementing the IMC approach from the beginning of the school year, it will have more impact. Next year I will query what I am teaching more, let children make more choices and make more decisions. It s allowed me to be more creative and think if this doesn t work I ll try something else. [Trainee teacher] Several of the trainees consulted also said that they would now consider applying for maths coordinator positions in the future. In terms of reaching a wider pool of undergraduate and post-graduate beneficiaries, learning and resources from IMC have already been disseminated to colleagues and student cohorts at both universities. Teaching materials have been revised and supplemented in light of new knowledge gained, and university tutors are continuing to explore how IMC can be further disseminated next year. 7

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