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Durham University

Department of Mathematical Sciences

MATH3121 Mathematics Teaching III

The course examines the organisation, delivery and assessment of mathematics teaching in this country. Students will have the opportunity to consider current trends in pedagogy and engage in topical debates on current educational issues, including the purpose and methods of assessment. There will be student led seminars and students will be encouraged to reflect in depth upon what constitutes good teaching and learning in a mathematics classroom.

Note that students will be interviewed for a place on this course, with interviews taking place early in June. Students wishing to express an interest in being interviewed for the course should email the course leader [] by the end of the preceeding Epiphany term. All students taking this module must have a recent DBS certificate issued (except in exceptional circumstances) by Durham University. Application forms will be given out during interviews.

Term 1

In addition to the seminars that will cover a large range of issues relevant to the teaching and learning of mathematics, students will have the opportunity to visit schools and observe mathematics lessons. Students will prepare an individual School File containing a report and analysis of their observations, and there will be some opportunity to share their reflections with the group as a whole.

Term 2

In Epiphany term, students do a project on assessment. As part of this project they will undertake an extended school placement (12 hours pupil contact over 6 weeks), working as a classroom assistant with a particular class. During this time, the student will prepare an examination paper that the pupils in the class will sit. The student will mark the papers and prepare a feedback report for the class-teacher at an individual pupil level, all of which contributes to their project as a whole. In the final week of Epiphany term students will give a short demonstration of their project. The final write­-up will be completed over the Easter holidays.

The assessment of the course will be through the School File, continuous assessment in term 1, and through the demonstration and write-up of the assessment project. Details are in the Faculty Handbook.

Outline of Course

Aim: To encourage students to reflect on how mathematics is taught and learnt; to help them understand how mathematics teaching fits into a wider education system; to develop students' group and presentational skills; to help inform students' future career decisions.

Seminar themes:

  • The educational landscape: Why education matters. The mathematics curriculum and its assessment. The advanced standpoint. School performance and accountability issues.
  • Academic writing: A brief guide to academic writing, referencing, and the avoidance of plagiarism.
  • Mathematics teaching and learning: What to look for in the school visit - practicalities and advice. What constitutes a good or outstanding lesson. The psychology of learning mathematics, and how we can use it to make us better teachers. The teaching of difficult concepts. What is learning? Problem solving skills - what are they and how do we teach them? The ‘Art of Engagement’.
  • Assessment: Designing assessment that is fit for purpose. The Awarding Body perspective.
  • You, the teacher: High level teaching assignment - how good are you at explaining something? Teaching experience with school students.


For details of prerequisites, corequisites, excluded combinations, teaching methods, and assessment details, please see the Faculty Handbook.

Reading List

Please see the Library Catalogue for the MATH3121 reading list.

Examination Information

For information about use of calculators and dictionaries in exams please see the Examination Information page in the Degree Programme Handbook.