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USC to host convergence of maths educators

A project that saw local school children use mathematics to influence policy on the location of a skate park at Nambour will be among the matters discussed at an international conference of maths educators at the University of the Sunshine Coast starting on Sunday.

The 38th Annual MERGA (Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia) Conference from 28 June to 2 July will bring together national and international educators to present research findings and consider developments and challenges in their sector.

Researchers from USC’s School of Education have organised the event, with the theme ‘Mathematics Education in the Margins’, and believe it will help put the Sunshine Coast on the map in relation to maths education.

Keynote speakers include: Jill Adler, Chair of Mathematics Education at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa; Monash University Professor of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Peter Sullivan; and University of Canberra Centenary Professor Tom Lowrie.

USC Senior Lecturer in Mathematics and Physics Education Dr Margaret Marshman will present a paper outlining how students from Nambour State School and Nambour State High School used maths to collect and analyse data that helped influence policy decisions around the location of the Nambour District Skate Park and Youth Activity Precinct.

Dr Marshman said providing Middle Years students (those in Years 5-9) with authentic and real mathematics tasks helped improve their mathematics knowledge as well as their views about the usefulness and value of mathematics.

“My paper will report on how a group of Middle Years students used mathematics and technology to engage in a real community issue – of the need for a teenage safe space – to inform local council policy,” she said.

“Data were collected for this case study via journal observations and reflections, semi-structured interviews, samples of students’ work and videos of students working. The data were analysed by identifying the main themes that were connected with designing and locating the space and focused on the stages of the statistical investigation cycle used.”

USC’s Head of School of Education Professor Shelley Dole will present a paper on cross-curricular numeracy learning experiences that focus on the development of proportional reasoning (being able to compare objects or quantities using multiplication).

The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Birgit Lohmann will welcome keynote speakers and delegates at a reception event hosted by the Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering on Sunday from 6.45-7.45pm.

MERGA aims to encourage and promote quality research related to the teaching and learning of mathematics at all levels. Local maths educators interested in attending the conference can register online.

— Jarna Baudinette

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