School of Education

Centre for Studies in Science and Mathematics Education

CSSME Seminar Series

Improving children’s engagement by developing teachers’ practice

Date: 30 June 2016, 13:00 – 14:00
Location: EC Stoner, 10.81

Dr Indi Banner and Dr Michael Inglis

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The paradox of ‘developing’ employability: a study of socio-cultural capital in physics graduate prospects in England

Date: 1 June 2016, 13:00 – 14:00
Location: EC Stoner, 10.81

Research Student Sinead Marian D’Silva will be discussing her research into the employability of physics graduates.


This seminar will be based on my research for my PhD.

The employability agenda in UK has been embedded into the Higher Education landscape and has generated responses that range across a spectrum of absolute endorsement to wholehearted distrust. On one end, research suggest that this enhances Learning, Teaching and Education practice, indeed the overall student experience in HE. Some stay in the middle noting that there are benefits to the agenda, yet it must be adopted critically. On the other end of the spectrum, it is felt that endorsing this policy that stresses on linking university and business within which students are considered consumers poses a threat to the education system by granting the market power over knowledge.

Yet, how do we respond to the agenda within the context of a demand for widening participation, more so in a traditionally elite discipline such as Physics, while simultaneously noting the graduate market has been making demands for “better” STEM graduates?

Through this seminar I will map out a very brief history of the growth of employability to its disciplining (mandatory Foucauldian reference) into Higher Education. Then, I shall identify some of the fractures I have observed in the employability agenda within the context of a massified service of Education and the pursuit of class inclusion. Finally, I will locate my research on how undergraduate physics students’ understand and engage with their graduate prospects.

I invite attendees to reflect on a possible balance between student learning for learning’s sake and learning for enhances job prospects. I would also seek feedback on how I intend to approach this topic.

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CANCELLED How effective are current interventions in identifying pharmacy students who struggle with calculations

Date: 26 May 2016, 13:00 – 14:00
Location: EC Stoner, 10.81

Elizabeth Horncastle



The ability of pharmacists to accurately perform pharmaceutical calculations in practice is crucial to public safety. Therefore the teaching and assessment of calculation skills forms an essential part of pharmacy students’ training. All pharmacy students must have GCSE mathematics at Grade C or above before starting their undergraduate studies. However there are a number of students each year who struggle with the calculations required throughout their degree course.

My research will look to identify students who will struggle with calculations at the beginning of their studies. This will be done by having a diagnostic test in induction week, statistically analysing results and comparing with entry level mathematics qualifications and demographic data. I will also use a questionnaire to gather data from the students about how confident they are in performing calculations before they have any teaching. The results will then inform the development of an intervention to help struggling students.

Developing the research

In this seminar I will start at the end of the student’s journey, that is when they qualify as a pharmacist and explain what calculations skills they need as a ‘day 1 pharmacist’. We will travel backwards in time to the start of their undergraduate studies and look at the types of calculations that are required at each stage of their development. I will give examples of the types of calculations that students have struggled with in the past and then look forward to discussing how my research can be developed.

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Closing the numeracy gap

Date: 18 May 2016, 13:00 – 14:00
Location: EC Stoner, 10.81

Professor Graham Orpwood


Data from a variety of national and international projects such as PISA have raised questions about the adequacy of numeracy levels of British adults and children. In Canada, too, we have had similar questions and concerns and, in a recent paper (published on the internet at, I and a colleague have described what we call a “numeracy gap” – a gap between where we as a society are and where we need to be to enable full participation in a technological society. The paper also proposes a series of actions that, we argue, need to be taken to close this gap, starting with fundamentally changing public attitudes towards numeracy. In sharing the Canadian research here, we do not advocate exactly the same solutions. Rather, we invite discussion of the range of causes for the British numeracy gap and the responses most needed here.

About the Speaker

Professor Graham Orpwood is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar, York University, Toronto. Professor Orpwood has been spent 30 years in the field of policy research in education. He has worked at Federal, Provincial and Local levels as well as in international fields, as a research manager and director, methodologist, Ministerial advisor, author, lecturer and consultant.

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Teacher learning and educational innovation

Date: 5 May 2016, 13:00 – 14:00
Location: EC Stoner, 10.81

Visiting Professor Jan van Driel, Leiden University, Netherlands


In this seminar, I will explore ways to make educational innovations practical and manageable for teachers. The seminar is based on research on changes in teachers’ knowledge and classroom practice in the context of innovations. I will discuss  how educative curricular materials and  teachers’ educational goals can be used to guide a  change process  towards implementation of the intended  innovation.

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Evaluating core maths—a new and important addition to the post-16 maths curriculum in England

Date: 10 March 2016, 13:00 – 14:00
Location: EC Stoner, 10.81

Dr Matt Homer


It is well known that England is an outlier when it comes to post-16 participation in mathematics (Hodgen et al, 2010; Hillman 2014). As part of a wider ‘overhaul’ of the school mathematics curriculum (DfE, 2013), one potential policy solution to this problem is Core Mathematics, a new post-16 level 3 mathematics qualification equivalent in size to an AS level, but studied over two years. The new qualification was made available for ‘early adoption’ to begin teaching in September 2014, and was rolled out nationally a year later.

Core Mathematics is a very important and unusual addition to the post-16 curriculum landscape, particularly as mathematics is seen by government and many other stakeholders as such an important subject in terms of ensuring the economic success of the nation (Royal Society, 2014). However, there are big challenges to its success – will students, teachers, schools, Higher Education and employers, amongst others, value it enough to guarantee its long term future?

Developing an evaluation of core maths – this seminar

In this seminar, we want to discuss and inform the development of our proposal to assess how well Core maths is doing since its national roll-out. The overall aim of the project is to assess the early success or otherwise of this important and innovative new qualification, and to make suggestions as to how the government and other agencies can act to ensure its long term success.

We want your input on the best approaches to succeeding in our aims:

  • What methods should we use and what groups/stakeholders should be talk to?
  • What do you think are the best approaches that will ‘work’ in schools given the current pressures they are under?
  • What should we do in terms of data collection – what do you think works well and what doesn’t?
  • What types of data will please funders?
  • Who isn’t usually involved in educational research related to curriculum reform but should be?

Obviously, we have already thought about all these issues but for now we don’t want to prejudice your input with details of our current thoughts. During the seminar, we will give more of the policy background, and our current plans will be described and hopefully further developed.


  • DfE. 2013. Introduction of 16 to 18 core maths qualifications, DfE, London.
  • Hilman, J. 2014. Mathematics after 16: the state of play, challenges and ways ahead, Nuffield Foundation, London
  • Hogden, J, Pepper, D, Sturman, L, Ruddock, G. 2010. Is the UK an outlier? An international comparison of upper secondary mathematics education, Nuffield Foundation

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Three-dimensional teaching of science and technology

Date: 11 February 2016, 14:00 – 15:00
Location: EC Stoner, 10.81

Professor Harrie Eijkelhof, Freudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University


In a recently published proposal for a new curriculum framework for junior secondary science and technology education the Netherlands Institute for Curriculum Development (SLO) has adopted a three-dimensional approach of teaching and learning science and technology. The approach has been inspired by the K-12 Framework for Science Education (National Research Council, 2012) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) in the US and puts an emphasis on ‘knowledge in use’.

Following the conceptual thinking and vision underlying both the K-12 Framework and the NGSS, the new Dutch curriculum framework focuses on the integration of three dimensions:

  • disciplinary core ideas, separated in physics, chemistry, biology, earth science and technology, not very different from current contents in the Netherlands;
  • scientific and engineering practices, i.e. the way scientists and engineers work, like ‘planning and carrying out investigations’ and ‘developing and using models’;
  • crosscutting concepts, i.e. the way scientists and engineers think, like ‘patterns’, ’cause and effect’ and ‘structure and function’; compared with the K-12 Framework, two concepts have been added: ‘sustainability’ and ‘risks & safety’.

The third dimension is very new in the Netherlands, as the emphasis in teaching and learning so far has been on content and practical skills. Specific learning aims and questions to stimulate students’ thinking related to the crosscutting concepts have been added. It offers opportunities to bring more coherence in teaching the various science subjects. As far as known, the Netherlands is the first European country to develop this kind of K-12-inspired science and technology education.

In the seminar the Dutch framework will be presented. Some recent experiences with the production and piloting of lesson materials will be discussed.


National Research Council (2012). A framework for K-12 science education. Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

NGSS Lead States (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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Guest Speaker: Fotou Nikolaos

Date: 3 December 2015, 1pm – 2pm

Location: EC Stoner 10.81

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Guest Speaker: Suliman Binmohsen

Date: 12 November 2015, 1pm – 2pm

Location: EC Stoner 10.81

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Guest Speaker: Pernille Maj Svendsen

Date: 22 October 2015, 1pm – 2pm

Location: EC Stoner 10.81

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