Oxford researchers in international project on how to teach quadratic equations

In the next few months, video cameras will appear in secondary schools that have chosen to take part in a national study to observe maths lessons focused on quadratic equations.

Researchers from the University of Oxford, with the Education Development Trust, will undertake the study involving up to 85 schools selected from different parts of England. The research team will enlist 85 teachers and around 1,200 pupils so they can analyse video filmed in classrooms of different teaching practices and pupils’ responses to assess what works best in the teaching of quadratic equations. Oxfordshire schools will be among those approached to take part in the pilot. A dedicated videographer will work with the schools that opt to take part, and the project will only film children with the consent of their parents and guardians.

The research project is led by the Education Development Trust, working with Dr Jenni Ingram and Professor Pam Sammons from the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. Together they will analyse how pupils’ attitudes toward quadratic equations can be linked with their progress and results, and observe how teachers’ attitudes and methods also affect outcomes.

Dr Ingram said: 'We believe this study will improve our understanding of the relationships between a range of teaching practices and various student outcomes, including their enjoyment of mathematics, mathematical knowledge and engagement with learning.'

Professor Sammons added: ‘These findings will provide important new evidence to inform policy and support teachers classroom practice and professional development.'

Anna Riggall, head of research at Education Development Trust, commented: 'Teachers in some of the most celebrated education systems routinely watch other teachers to learn more about their own teaching. We are not just talking about classroom observation for performance management or an individual teacher's professional development but also videoing and analysing carefully the elements of teaching that take place. By doing this in a systematic way, we can learn a great deal about what teachers do and how pupils respond, and this will all be shared to allow others to learn.'

England is one of nine countries taking part in the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) Video Study. The pilot is being run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with a total of 750 mathematics teachers internationally taking part. It will study the teaching of mathematics across Japan, Chile, Mexico, Columbia, Spain, USA, China and Germany. Teaching professionals chose the theme of the research study after being contacted by TALIS.

Schools are increasingly using digital technologies to help improve teaching methods as videographer, Kim Morrison, from London Connected Learning Centre, explained:‘Classroom video observation gives teachers the opportunity to take control of their own professional development, enabling them to try out new strategies and interventions. The technique provides flexibility, allowing teachers to reflect on their success and areas for development alone, or with colleagues at a convenient time. As more and more professionals use online training programmes to up their skills, video observation gives teachers an exciting opportunity to collaborate and share best practice with colleagues from across the globe.'

The data will be gathered systematically and then coded so particular individuals or schools will not be identified from the results. The TALIS study will not rank different countries unlike the OECD PISA global education survey. In 2013, TALIS carried out a study that explored a broader theme, looking at the effectiveness of different teaching practices.

For more information, contact the University of Oxford News Office on 01865 280534 or email: news.office@admin.ox.ac.uk