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- PublicationMaths Sparks: Investigating the impact of outreach on pupils' attitudes towards mathematicsIn this article, we examine the impact of participating in a series of mathematics workshops on secondary-school pupils' attitudes towards mathematics. A six-week program, entitled 'Maths Sparks', was run by a team of lecturers and students at a research-intensive university in the Republic of Ireland. The outreach series aimed to promote mathematics to pupils from schools designated as socio-economically disadvantaged (DEIS - Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), who are less likely to study mathematics at higher level than their non-DEIS counterparts (Smyth et al. 2015). Sixty-two pupils participated in the research and data was generated through pre-post questionnaires based on the Fennema-Sherman (1976) framework of Attitudes to Mathematics. Findings suggest that while male students initially had more positive attitudes towards mathematics, there was a narrowing in this gender gap across several factors on the Fennema-Sherman scale as a result of participation in the programme. The most prominent of these features were: 'Attitudes towards success in mathematics' and 'Motivation towards mathematics'. Findings suggest that the construct and delivery of this Mathematics outreach programme, involving undergraduate students and academic staff, may provide a useful structure in benefitting pupils' attitudes towards mathematics and encouraging their study of the subject.
- PublicationInvestigating the longitudinal impact of participating in school-based lesson study on mathematics teachers' professional communityTeacher professional communities have recently figured among the most influential factors for supporting teachers in their learning and in enacting educational change in schools. While lesson study has been documented as a means to support the development of such communities, previous studies have not addressed the sustainability of the professional communities which emerge. In this study, we follow-up with six mathematics teachers from two post-primary schools in the Republic of Ireland, who engaged in school-based lesson study in 2012/13, in order to investigate the long-term impact on their teacher professional community. Our findings indicate that the mathematics teachers in both schools had developed a predominantly mature professional community during their participation in lesson study in 2012/13. Moreover, we find that six years on, the community has been sustained in one school and further strengthened in the other. These findings suggest that lesson study may be a viable model to develop and sustain mathematics teachers’ professional communities in the long-term.