Welcome to the MCU project website! We hope that you will find the information included in this website useful. Please feel free to explore the site and contact us if you have any questions.

The project is now complete and you can download the final report from the below links.

Executive summary [pdf]
Full report [pdf]

What is the project about?

In order to assess whether a teaching method is effective, it is important to be able to measure what students know before and after a new concept is introduced. Because this can be really difficult, one of the aims of the project is to develop a better way of measuring students’ conceptual knowledge of mathematics.

How are we going to do this?

First we will assess what students know about a mathematical concept. For example, we could ask students to explain in their own words what a fraction is. Then we will go into schools with specially designed lessons to teach the same concept. Following this, we will ask students once more to explain the concept so that we can assess what they have learned from our teaching.

How are we going to assess student’s learning?

We will be using a method called comparative judgment. The idea behind comparative judgment is that it is much easier to compare one answer to another rather than marking using a traditional marking scheme. We will therefore collect students’s answers to an open-ended question and judge pairs of answers to decide which one shows the most conceptual understanding. We will then repeat this process for many pairs of answers, until we can create a rank order.

What do we hope to show?

We hope that using our method of assessing student’s work, we will be able to show whether our teaching was effective in improving student’s conceptual understanding of a new topic in mathematics. This method could then be useful to other mathematics education researchers.

Who is involved in the project?

Researchers at Loughborough University are conducting the study (click here to meet the team!). We have also recruited two very experienced and respected teachers to teach the new concepts in schools. We are recruiting schools in the Leicestershire area to take part in the project. We are asking Year 5 students to learn about a new algebra concept, and Year 11 students to learn about a new calculus concept.