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Mathematics Education Research

IT Tallaght Mathematics and Statistics staff have a long history of research and practice in many aspects of mathematics education, especially in how best to enable people from all backgrounds and at every stage of their lives to engage with and use mathematics. The group has expertise in the design and effective use of software tools to deepen mathematical learning, and in the provision of mathematics learning supports.  We have a particular research interest in the field of adults learning mathematics with the objective to develop a profound understanding of the self-perception of ‘not being a maths person’ as a platform for enabling and supporting people to recognise their capacity for mathematics, and to realise their learning potential. 

The ‘Maths Eyes’ initiative was invented by this research group and is being disseminated across the World. Current research focus in this is on ‘invisible’ mathematics in the workplace and how it is identified, contextualised and mapped on to the National Framework of Qualifications in support of Lifelong Learning.

Personnel:
IT Tallaght academic staff lecturing in  Mathematics and Statistics.

Funding:
IT Tallaght; DIT Learning Teaching and Technology Centre; Engineers Ireland; National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education; National Adult Literacy Agency; South County Dublin Partnership; SOLAS; REAP (HEA) .

Collaborations:
Collaborations with many other HEIs and networks including:  ALM (Adults Learning Mathematics research group http://www.alm-online.net/ ), SEFI Mathematics Working Group, http://sefi.htw-aalen.de/ ); Irish Mathematical Society; Irish Mathematics Learning Support Network (IMLSN);  National Centre for Excellence for Mathematics and Science Teaching and Learning in the University of Limerick (It Tallaght is a centre of excellence). 

National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA);  SOLAS (Further Education and Training Authority);  PDMT (Professional Diploma in Mathematics Teaching, level 9) consortium member; Dublin West Education Centre; Irish Prison Education Service; Dublin Education and Training Board. 
Specific collaborations with colleagues from DIT and ITB included:

  • 17th SEFI-MWG European Seminar on Mathematics in Engineering Education on June 23-25, 2014 in Dublin. 
  • A study on Mathematics Learning Support (MLS) to inform the Technological University for Dublin and to prototype a virtual drop-in service (2015)
  • 8th Annual Irish Workshop on Mathematics Learning and Support Centres on the theme of: "Diversity: challenges and opportunities – enabling and supporting mathematics learning in a diverse student population" hosted by ITT and DIT (2014).
  • Development of  a one year Special Purpose Award in Mathematics which is accepted by Irish universities as equivalent to Honours grade C, to allow access to Honours Degree STEM subjects was developed iin colloboration with the Dublin Education and Training Board and DIT( 2017).


Selected Publications: 

  • Dr John Keogh (2018); “Adults, Mathematics and Work; from Research into Practice” Brill (Sense) Publishers USA. In press, due in July, 2018.
  • Dr John Keogh (Ed.) (2018) “ALM 25th Anniversary Book; A lot done, a lot more to do”. Adults Learning mathematics; an International Research Forum. In press, due July, 2018. 
  • Ciaran O’Sullivan; Dr Paul Robinson; Dr John Keogh; Dr John O’Neill (2017)
  •  “Models of re-engaging adult learners with mathematics.” Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An international Journal of the IMA. DOI:      https://doi.org/10.1093/teamat/hrw027
  • Dr John Keogh; Dr John O’Neill: 2016 “Work-based Learning in the Further Education and Training Sector; Towards Next Practice”. Internal research document commissioned by SOLAS.
  • Cormac Breen, Ciaran O'Sullivan, Damian Cox, 2016, “Mathematics Learning Support across a Multi-Campus Institution: A Prototype of Virtual Support” MSOR Connections (v 14, 2, pp8-15)
  • C Breen (DIT), M Carr (DIT), C O’Sullivan, T Brannick (DETB), P Robinson “Preparing students for engineering mathematics: A collaborative approach between Vocational Education at second level and third level educational institutions, Proceedings of the SEFI Annual Conference 18-21 September 2017 Azores, Portugal (ISBN: 978-989-98875-7-2).


Other Information:  
Hosted the annual conference of the Irish Mathematical Society on 27-28th August 2012, which was devoted to mathematical topics from current research to educational issues. Provided National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) workshops for numeracy practitioners, 2016 & 2017.

Civic Engagement activities: Tallaght Access Office Maths Initiative: 2004 to date: Driven by  IT Tallaght Mathematics lecturers to support learners and promote access to HE  in 10 DEIS schools in its catchment area (http://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/), including  Killinarden Community School, Mount Seskin Community College, St. Aidan’s Community School, St Kevin’s Community College, Deansrath Community College and Collinstown Park Community College, St Johns, St Dominic’s, Caritas, Kylemore College. The objectives to show students what to expect at third level mathematics and to address the emergent needs are accomplished in three ways:

Visits by the fifth year’s school students to the institute with transport provided by ITT.  The visit comprises one hour of Mathematics activity followed by refreshments after which they participate in a engineering/business/ computing/ science/ digital media ‘fun’ activity, for an hour. In 2017, 276 students from 9 schools participated. 

In-school Mathematics workshops are arranged for Junior Cycle (2nd year) students at the request of the schools. The workshops take place in a double period and are facilitated by a lecturer and technician from ITT, with the active participation of the teacher. The workshop comprises the following activities:

  • A Mathematics exploration in which the pupils engage in a guided discovery activity.
  • An Engineering exploration based on co-ordinate geometry where students use Snap Electronic kits to explore the building of electronic circuits.

In 2017, 406 students and 22 teachers participated.
In addition, President’s Volunteer Programme (PVP) sponsors the provision of extra learning support for students in 5th year with Mathematics (6th year students’ supports are catered for by the ACE/Cheap HE access programmes for DEIS schools).  All the tutors are ITT undergraduates supervised by an IT Maths Lecturer. (http://www.it-tallaght.ie/pvp). In 2017, 39 second level students and 19 ITT volunteer  tutors participated in the PVP.

Maths Eyes:  ITT is a central partner in  Maths Eyes initiative (Terry Maguire), http://www.haveyougotmathseyes.com/ . Recognised both nationally and internationally, Maths Eyes addresses the challenge that many adults dismiss their use of mathematics as ‘common sense’, while at the same time believing that they can’t ‘do’ mathematics. Opening their  “Maths Eyes” helps review the perception that maths belongs only in the class room to one that begins to see the real world being saturated by mathematics with they engage everyday. This helps to make mathematics relevant, useful and accessible.   IT Tallaght staff, in collaboration with the Dublin West Education Centre and others, produced the key resource pack “Developing Maths Eyes: An Innovative Approach to Building a Positive image of Mathematics”. It Tallaght Mathematics staff are centrally involved in organisation of the national Maths Eyes competition as part of Maths Week. There are over 600 entries every year from primary and secondary schools, adult education etc. The prize-giving this year is taking place in the Dept. of Education and Skills on 30th May 2018 at which Minister Richard Bruton will speak.

Maths Week: Partner in the annual Maths Week initiative, http://www.mathsweek.ie/, hosting events each year including an outreach visit to Cloverhill Prison in 2017.
 

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