30 September 2013

A University of Queensland program designed to improve the quality of mathematics and science teachers has attracted $2.2 million in funding from the Australian Government’s Office for Learning and Teaching.

The ‘Inspiring mathematics and science in teacher education’, is led by The University of Queensland and includes researchers from James Cook University, The University of Newcastle, The University of Sydney, University of Tasmania and University of Wollongong.

Professor Merrilyn Goos (School of Education) and Professor Joseph Grotowski (School of Mathematics and Physics) lead the UQ project team which also includes Associate Professor Shelley Dole (School of Education) and Dr Michael Bulmer (School of Mathematics and Physics).

Professor Goos said the program will trial a range of innovative strategies to recruit and better prepare mathematics and science teachers for the classroom.

“The ‘Inspiring mathematics and science in teacher education’ program will develop and disseminate new interdisciplinary approaches to the training of mathematics and science teachers before they commence service,” Professor Goos said.

“As part of the program, new courses will be developed around actual mathematics and science inquiry projects, bringing pre-service teachers, mathematicians and scientists into schools to inspire young students with real research.

“Other courses will be designed and co-taught by mathematics teacher educators and mathematicians to ensure that pre-service teachers both know the content, and know how to teach it.”

The project team includes mathematicians, scientists and educators experienced in learning and teaching in higher education and curriculum development, and leaders of professional associations and networks.

Professor Goos said the program aimed to foster genuine, lasting collaboration that unites mathematics, science and education scholars across the disciplinary boundaries that have previously divided them.

“We hope it will institutionalise new ways of integrating the content and pedagogical expertise of education professionals and discipline professionals in mathematics and science into pre-service teacher education,” she said.

UQ President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj said the project would involve extensive engagement with other universities across Australia, thus ensuring national impact and evidence-based dissemination of outcomes.

“This program draws together some of the best universities in Australia to ensure that we are producing mathematics and science teachers that have the best training and teaching methods to inspire our school students,” Professor Høj said.

“In the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia, the six partner universities achieved 25 ratings of 4 or 5 in relevant mathematics and science fields, ranking them above world standard.

"I warmly congratulate the team on the successful funding," he said.

Media: Professor Merrilyn Goos m.goos@uq.edu.au or Professor Joseph Grotowski (07) 3365 3260, 0421 727 027 or grotow@maths.uq.edu.au