News Blog

Confidence in Mathematics on the Rise in Catholic Primary Schools

February 1, 2013

Student knowledge and confidence in Mathematics is on the rise in Catholic primary schools on the Central Coast and across the Diocese of Broken Bay, thanks to an innovative approach which offers teachers new strategies to enhance mathematics learning.

Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU) is a research-based approach developed by Dr Ann Gervasoni of the Australian Catholic University which aims to improve the quality of learning, teaching, assessment and intervention in mathematics.

Bianca Witney, Education Officer – Numeracy with the Catholic Schools Office said rather than simply teaching children the procedures of maths, EMU helps students to develop efficient problem solving strategies and gain a conceptual understanding of mathematics.

“We start by using a Mathematical Assessment Interview, which is a one-on-one interview with the teacher and child,” Mrs Witney said.  “The Interview provides information about each child’s use of strategies and conceptual understanding that is often difficult to elicit through more traditional methods of assessment.”

Year 1 students found to have difficulty with some aspects of maths receive specialist intervention provided by qualified intervention teachers.

“We now have 53 specialist teachers across our school system to provide early intensive support in mathematics,” Mrs Witney said.

The information is then used by teachers to design a more personalised mathematics curriculum.

Principal of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic School, The Entrance, David Fletcher, said every child in the school had completed the assessment interview with their teacher.

“That gave us an exact idea of each child’s understanding of the different areas of Mathematics and assisted teachers to determine appropriate instruction,” Mr Fletcher said. “It has allowed us to direct our teaching to meet the individual needs of each child.”

Mr Fletcher indicated that parents had been very supportive of the program and noted that student mathematical confidence had risen across the school.