Precision Teaching for maths: An academic critique (2023)

Authors: Nicole Harris and Sarah Wright
Published: 2023
Publication: DECP Debate

This critique briefly summarises the evolution of the Precision Teaching (PT) approach, exploring what PT is, who it can be used with and its theoretical underpinnings. The results of a systematic literature search exploring the question ‘Is Precision Teaching effective at improving maths skills in school aged children and
young people?’ are then discussed. Based on the five publications reviewed, the interventions that involved PT generally showed greater performance gains than the control or comparison group. Given the highly specific conditions of these interventions however, it is not possible to generalise the intervention effects beyond these studies. It must therefore be concluded that based on these five papers, it is not possible to say whether PT is an effective way to support maths skills. The implications for professional practice suggest a need to establish an evidence base, built around formalised and structured evaluations of PT, that use a control or comparison group. It is suggested that more teachers be involved in this process rather than it being the role of academics. This would enable teachers and Educational Psychologists to speak with more certainty of the efficacy of PT at improving maths skills in school aged children and young people.

This is a pre-publication version of the following article:

Harris, N. & Wright, S. (2023) Precision Teaching for maths: An academic critique (2023). DECP Debate, 186, 6-17. DOI: 10.53841/bpsdeb.2023.1.186.6

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Flipped learning in secondary school mathematics- is it worth the flip? (2021)

Authors: Hannah Edwards and Sarah Wright
Published: 2021
Publication: DECP Debate

There is a growing argument that the traditional method of teaching maths is ineffective at developing fluent and adaptive mathematical skills (Boaler et al., 2015; Weiss & Pasley, 2004), resulting in disengaged and dissatisfied students (Boaler et al., 2015; Brown et al., 2008; Clark, 2015; Nardi & Steward, 2003). Flipped learning provides an alternative pedagogy, whereby digital instructional content is digested by students before lessons, freeing-up in-class time for more engagement with teachers and peers on real-life maths problems, promoting higher-level thinking skills (Bergmann & Sams, 2012). In this critique, theories underpinning flipped learning are described and a systematic search of the evidence-base exploring the effectiveness of flipped learning as a maths pedagogy for students aged 11-16 years is conducted and reviewed. Implications for using flipped learning in educational practice are discussed, including implications following the COVID-19 pandemic. With education experiencing unprecedented challenges since 2020 due to national lockdowns, increased student and teacher self-isolation, and reduced time in the classroom, the potential of flipped learning is considered as an alternative or additional supplement to traditional maths teaching.

This is a pre-publication version of the following article:

Edwards, H. & Wright, S. (2021) Flipped learning in secondary school mathematics- is it worth the flip? DECP Debate, 179, 7-15.

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An investigation into the associations between maths anxiety in secondary school pupils and teachers’ and parents’ implicit theories of intelligence and failure

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Anna Doedens-Plant
Submitted: June 2018


This research examined the role that teachers’ mindsets, or implicit beliefs about intelligence and failure, play in the development of their pupils’ mindsets and subsequent maths anxiety. A systematic review of fourteen studies investigated the association between teachers’ implicit beliefs about intelligence and their pedagogical practices in the classroom. It showed that teachers tended to report having a growth mindset, but this was not necessarily evidenced by concordant classroom practice, such as the adoption of mastery goals. Fixed mindset beliefs, on the other hand, seemed to lead to more consistent practice, with potentially damaging effects.

The empirical study built on this review to explore mindset (i.e., implicit beliefs about intelligence and failure) in secondary school pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 (0.859), their parents (N=84) and teachers (0=9). Pupils were also asked about their perceptions of their parents’ and teachers’ goals, as either oriented towards performance or learning. The results pointed to several factors associated with pupils’ maths anxiety (i.e. gender, maths set). Also, pupils’ implicit beliefs that failure is debilitating were associated with pupils’ maths anxiety. Teachers’ implicit failure beliefs were associated with pupils’ beliefs about failure and were indirectly linked via pupils’ perceptions of their teachers’ goals as fixed. Further analysis highlighted that pupils’ intelligence beliefs, their perception of their parents’ goals and their maths set also impacted on whether or not pupils’ viewed failure as debilitating or beneficial for learning. These results suggest that teachers can make a useful contribution to reducing pupils’ maths anxiety, by reflecting on how to translate helpful beliefs into visible practice, to help pupils experience failure as an opportunity for learning.

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