PhD candidate finds novel way to assess kid's maths ability

  • Gabrielle Oslington
  • Megan Wright

Press/Media: Expert Comment


Measuring kids’ mathematical prowess usually falls to how many ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ are made on paper, but Dr Gabrielle Oslington has discovered a more meaningful gauge of capability. At present working her way towards a PhD in maths education at Macquarie University, the coordinator from Arden Anglican School in New South Wales has been investigating how and when certain maths concepts ‘click’ with a cohort of the schools’ youngsters. “So to do that I watch them very carefully,” she reports. “I spend a lot of time with them, I video them, I get them to draw or write to explain what they are doing and then I analyse the videotapes and their documentation and look for signs when certain new concepts are starting to emerge.” us far there have been some valuable revelations. “Sometimes their written work won’t show [competency]; it will either overestimate or underestimate them – to really understand them, they need to tell you what they’re thinking,” Oslington reects. “I think as teachers often we are very quick to jump in and mark and move onto the next thing, but because I’m analysing this material, suddenly I’ll think ‘oh, that’s what he was saying’.  0 comments “And it wasn’t what we call ‘correct’ but actually this is meaningful for the student and I can see where it has meaning as well.” e educator says re-entering the academic world has brought great “riches”, including a growing circle of contacts, fresh resources for Arden and opportunities for professional development. “For example the current research I’m doing with Year 2s I’m planning to present at a conference in Sweden [this] year, which is really lovely.” When your research relates to your own work in schools and your interest area, the quest for knowledge becomes addictive, Oslington says. “Once I’ve got enough publications to put my PhD together, I won’t stop with the research or the publications.


Links between research and school teaching at Macquarie University

Period1 Feb 2018

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