Papers: Titles, Abstracts and Presentations

Monday, 3rd of July, 2016.

  • Time: 10:30-11, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Jenny Stacey

  • Title: First Language Interference: who, what, when and how can we help overcome it?

    Abstract: I work at Chesterfield College, teaching ESOL Maths, and GCSE Maths to adults. The GCSE classes have over 10% ESOL learners, all of whom have passed screening for an intensive 1 year course. My research work for a Master’s Degree in Education was on the effect of ESOL maths classes on English language acquisition, and as part of this study I investigated the differences between languages, and how these might impact on a learner’s ability to speak, understand and use English.
    Drawing on the work of Michael Swan, and Swan and Smith’s work in ‘Learner English: A teacher’s guide to interference and other problems’, this presentation will aim to help Maths practitioners appreciate some general and specific issues of English language acquisition. You will get a chart for speedy reference so you can see which students might have problems with, say, the ‘th’ sound, or who will need to be reminded to check they have pronounced to the ends of words, and will practice with some resources at various English language levels.

    Jenny Stacey ALM 23 Paper

  • Time: 11-11:30, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Graham Griffiths

  • Title: Using dialogue scenes in developing adult mathematics

    Abstract: The importance of language and communication in learning mathematics has been recognised for some time (eg Hoyles 1985). This paper will outline plans for a study into what happens when adults read out loud and discuss a short scene of dialogue about a percentage problem (developed by Malcolm Swan). This study will utilise a participational paradigm around mathematical activity rather than focusing of acquisitional notions of learning (Sfard 2008). As such, there are two broad aspects that will be analysed when looking how adults respond to such scenes of dialogue. One aspect will consider the linguistic tools that are used in learner-learner discussion along with the associated meta-rules of communication (Sfard 2008, Kieran et al 2002). Secondly, it will be important to consider a range of sociocultural issues that are involved when such discussion occurs (Oughton 2009). The analysis will assist in understanding the role of such scenes of dialogue as a mathematical activity in the adult mathematics classroom.

    Hoyles, C (1985) What is the point of group discussion in mathematics? Educational Studies in Mathematics, 16 (pp 205 – 214)
    Kieran C, Forman E and Sfard A (2002) Learning Discourse Discursive approaches to research in mathematics education. Dordrecht Kluwer.
    Oughton, H. (2009) ‘A willing suspension of disbelief? “Contexts” and recontextualisation in adult numeracy classrooms’, Adults Learning Mathematics: An International Journal 4(1) pp.16-31.
    Stard A (2008) Thinking as communicating. Cambridge University Press.

    Graham Griffiths ALM 23 Paper

    Graham Griffiths ALM 23 Paper – Additional Material 1

    Graham Griffiths ALM 23 Paper – Additional Material 2

  • Time: 11:30-12, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Javier Díez-Palomar

  • Title: Mathematics Dialogic Gatherings: A way to create new possibilities to learn Mathematics.

    Abstract: This paper introduces the Mathematics Dialogic Gatherings (MDG) as a successful way to encourage adults’ learning of Mathematics. We report on a group of adults who attended a MDG in an adult school placed in Barcelona. Participants in this group do not have an academic trajectory. They attend once a week a sessions in the adult school, where they read, share and discuss paragraphs from textbooks of mathematics. Popular gatherings are a historical way for adults to learn in Spain. MDG are based on the dialogic learning approach developed by Flecha and others. In this session I will provide evidence on adults’ discussions illustrating how they scaffold themselves through egalitarian dialogue to learn and understand the mathematical concepts included in the textbooks used within the MDG. Drawing on the data collected, I discuss that adults learn as a result of a dialogue in which they negotiate the meaning of the mathematical objects discussed, using dialogic talk. I conclude that MDG have the potential to create further learning opportunities especially for persons who never attended formal school courses, or dropped out their school.

    Javier Díez-Palomar ALM 23 Paper

  • Time: 2:05-2:35, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Evgenia Anagnostopoulou

  • Title: Educational Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) as a future technology enhanced learning for adult mathematics.

    Abstract: Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) is one of the most continuously evolving and profitable industry sectors. Research demonstrates that MMORPGs are more than just games; they are rather virtual societies which demand complex skills. Players, eager to communicate within the virtual world environment, work with numeracy, languages, problem solving, resource management, history, geography, etc. to become competent and are proud of their accomplishments. These factors point to considerable learning motivation in MMORPGs, a fact that could be harnessed to construct an educational MMORPG signalling a new era in teaching and learning.

    This paper presents a review of MMORPGs and their relevant educational activities. It further discusses ideas with which traditional learning and content may be replaced by an active, creative and student-lead constructive learning virtual world system, with particular attention to Mathematics.

    Evgenia Anagnostopoulou ALM 23 Paper

  • Time: 2:35-3:05, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Julie Crowley, Áine Ní Shé

  • Title: Online e-assessment tool Numbas.

    Abstract: As part of a joint project with UCC funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning we have used Numbas as an online e-assessment tool in Cork Institute of Technology and University College Cork. Our main motivation in introducing Numbas was to increase attendance and engagement at tutorials but also to make regular assessments with feedback a practical possibility for large groups. In this talk we would like to share our experiences of using Numbas in Cork including lecturer, tutor and student experience.

  • Time: 3:05-3:35, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Maryam Kiani

  • Title: Sexual Numeracy among college students: How Well Quantitative Sexual Data Make Sense for Young Adults?

    Abstract: Numeracy is not limited to the ability to use numbers, to add, subtract, multiply and divide. We use numeracy to think and communicate quantitatively about some data such as health records that may have a huge impact on our life.
    In the past few years there was a growing wealth of research emerging examining how well adults understand health and numerically presented health information. However, unfortunately, a few or none of these studies presented data specifically addressing sexual-based literacy or sexual numeracy even though the lack of proficiency in this matter may have severe and life-altering consequences in the short-term and future lives.

    So, in this current project I want to measure the proficiency of about 90 young adults (18-24 years old) in understanding various quantitative sexual information or simply sexual numeracy. I evaluate how well and to what degree they comprehend some quantitative concepts such as rate versus ratio or definition of odds versus probabilities. Further, their knowledge regarding distinction between incidence versus prevalence and also different forms of graphs will be dignified. This study not only indicates how health numeracy pervades daily life as a prominent source of information in the health arena, but also assists young adult to understand their sexual health care.

  • Time: 4:15-4:45, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Mark Prendergast, Natasha Spassiani, Joseph Roche

  • Title: Developing a Numeracy Module for Students with Intellectual Disability in Higher Education.

    Abstract: Individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) have been largely excluded from accessing all levels of education and participating in college life. Fortunately, academic institutions around the world are slowly beginning to examine how they can support equal citizenship of individuals with ID within their community. Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has been supporting the right of students with ID to be part of their college community since 1998. The Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities is currently revising its previously offered Certificate in Contemporary Living programme. A reconceptualised programme entitled ‘Arts, Science & Inclusive Applied Practice’ will commence in September 2016. The programme divides modules into six interdisciplinary themes, one of which is ‘Applied Science, Technology and Mathematics’. This theme recognises the importance of developing students’ basic numeracy skills in order to confidently navigate today’s society. Hence the newly proposed curriculum will provide students with ID with an Application of Number module. The aim of this module is to equip students with basic numeracy skills which are essential for mathematics-related challenges in everyday life. This paper will describe the design and development of this module and will also detail its piloting with a cohort of students with ID in TCD.

    Mark Prendergast et al ALM 23 Paper

  • Time: 4:45-5:15, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Maria Ryan, Olivia Fitzmaurice

  • Title: Behind the Numbers: An Investigation into preliminary findings of a mixed methods study into the existence of mathematics anxiety among mature students.

    Abstract: It is a very strong statement to admit that one is ‘no good at maths’ or ‘hates maths’. Yet this is a common admission among student cohorts. For mature students who harbour such a strong dislike of mathematics, these feelings can be exacerbated when they are faced with having to do an obligatory service mathematics module as part of a programme of study. For some mature students their dislike of mathematics can be identified as maths anxiety. Their experiences of mathematics as a subject throughout their lives are manifold, and depict a variety of emotions, attitudes, and beliefs about the subject. In spite of their experiences with mathematics, mature students demonstrate a persistence – and even a resilience – in respect of their engagement with mathematics. Research on mathematics anxiety is frequently conducted using quantitative methods, in particular measurement scales such as the MARS test or equivalent. However, while these tests reveal a numerical representation for the level of anxiety felt by the participant, there is limited insight available into the context for such anxiety, thereby limiting understanding as to the origin of such feelings. To this end, as part of a mixed methods approach, the researcher intends looking beyond the numerical results of the maths anxiety scale to exploring the mathematics life histories of mature students who take service mathematics at undergraduate level in Ireland at both University and Institute of Technology (IOT) sector. This paper reports on preliminary findings of the researcher’s data collection in respect of the mathematics anxiety among mature students at third level in Ireland.

    Maria Ryan et al ALM 23 Paper

  • Time: 5:15-5:45, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Kees Hoogland

  • Title: From an “answer getting mindset” to a “problem solving mindset”.

    Abstract: For over a century numeracy education was dominated by an answer getting mindset: how can we get to the right answers of the presented problems as soon as possible. This mindset is reasonably effective for success in most school settings. In research however, more and more evidence is gathered that this mindset has some serious pitfalls for education aiming at delivering students as good problem solvers of quantitative problems from real life. An answer-getting mindset leads arguably to what is called suspension of sense making: quickly and superficially scanning the problem, hastily performing operations with the numbers extracted from the problem, and a lack of realistic considerations on the found solutions. That is why many researchers and math educators plea for the development of a more problem solving mindset.

    I will show the characteristics of such a problem solving mindset and how it produces a different dynamic in mathematics classrooms. In my exposé I will make use of the work of Dewey, Ehrenfest-Afanasyeva, Freudenthal, Verschaffel, Blum, Daro, Boaler, and Dweck. Especially for adult education with its strong links to the quantitative world around us and its focus on the usability of the acquired mathematics this problem solving mindset could be of value.

    Kees Hoogland ALM 23 Paper

Tuesday, 4th of July, 2016.

  • Time: 10:20-10:50, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Linda Galligan, Anita Frederiks, Andrew Wandel, Clare Robinson, Shahab Abdulla, Zanubia Hussain

  • Title: Nursing students’ readiness for the numeracy needs of their program: Students’ perspective.

    Abstract: A four year project, based at a regional university in Australia, aimed to investigate students’ perceptions of their mathematical readiness across disciplines. At this university, the percentage of mature aged students is considerably higher than the sector (58% to 24%) and the number of students identified as low SES is 34%, double that of the sector at 17%. The project investigated students’ perceptions of their readiness for the quantitative skills needed in their courses after having completed the course. This paper outlines student readiness from a nursing perspective and draws on survey data of 160 students from 2012 to 2015; assessment results from this period; and interviews. In our preliminary results in 2012, we found up to 25% of students in nursing felt poorly prepared for some of the quantitative components in their courses. However, this was a small preliminary study and did not look at individual courses within a program. Our subsequent surveys in 2014 and 2015 revisited most of the questions asked in 2012. We also correlated this survey with mathematics assessment, completed within one course, and found mismatches between perception and formal assessment. The paper will discuss some possible reasons for this mismatch.

    Linda Galligan et al ALM 23 Paper

  • Time: 10:50-11:20, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Diane Dalby

  • Title: The professional identity of mathematics teachers in Further Education.

    Abstract: The experiences of teachers as learners of mathematics and their beliefs about the subject have been shown to have some impact on classroom practice. Within Further Education colleges in England, however, mathematics and numeracy teachers are often expected to teach a range of curricula and this brings additional complexity to the reconciliation of personal epistemology and practice. In this paper, qualitative data from questionnaires, interviews and classroom observations of mathematics teachers in three Further Education colleges are used to examine how these teachers position themselves with respect to the curricula they teach. The findings show how teachers’ experiences of learning and using mathematics, in formal education and the workplace, influence their beliefs about themselves and their teaching. Individual teachers develop a ‘leading identity’ that positions them more closely to either an academic mathematics curriculum or to one that focuses on the application of mathematics in life situations. In a system that often requires teachers to fulfill multiple roles as mathematics and numeracy teachers, the research suggests how the professional identity and positioning of these teachers is a particularly significant area for Further Education that impacts on student learning and could beneficially be incorporated into pre-service or in-service professional development.

  • Time: 11:20-11:50, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Charlotte Arkenback-Sundström

  • Title: ”It’s all about common sense and the right attitude” – Problem solving and Numeracy in adult workplace learning.

    Abstract: The paper investigates some mathematics containing activities in the workplace-based part of Swedish adult apprenticeships in retail. Ten apprentices and their workplace tutors were interviewed and observed or shadowed at the workplace on one or several occasions during 2015. The study comprises twelve apprenticeship places in various stores and shops within the retail sector. The analysis shows that three different work practices can be found in a store, warehouse, shop-floor and checkout. During workday staff moves between these practices carrying out various work activities. It may also be they have their work in one of the three practices. It is in these practices the apprentices learning practice is created, where they can be involved in problem solving and ”numeracy activities” in order to develop develop mathematics containing professional skills.

  • Time: 1:50-2:20, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: David Tout

  • Title: Why is numeracy critical? Some lessons and reflections.

    Abstract: This presentation will highlight a number of issues and lessons related to the teaching and learning of mathematics, numeracy (or mathematical literacy) based on reflections on adult and young people’s performance in a number of international numeracy and mathematical literacy assessments and from other research about adult numeracy that shows that it is essential to address and enhance the numeracy competence of our young people and adults. Dave will reflect on his hands-on involvement since 1998 on three key international numeracy assessments (ALLS, PIAAC and PISA), not only on what the results tell us, but also from what we can learn from their comprehensive, research based frameworks. What are the challenges we face in improving the ability of learners, no matter their age, to understand, use and apply maths in their lives outside of school, and how might we better address this in our teaching practices.

    David Tout ALM 23 Paper

  • Time: 2:20-2:50, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Rianne Reichardt, Jetske Woudstra

  • Title: National service desk for numeracy and languages in vocational education and training.

    Abstract: In 2010 the Dutch Government introduced a new framework for numeracy. From that moment on all students in vocational education and training (VET) had to follow a program on learning numeracy according to their level of VET education leading to compulsory digital national final exams. Numeracy is therefore acknowledged as a critical 21st century skill.
    Pilot examinations have shown that a large number of VET students fail the standards of the new numeracy exams. This was the main reason why in 2015 the Government decided that all students had to take the exams but that a “fail” does not yet prevent them from receiving a VET diploma.

    In this presentation we would like to focus on the success and fail factors of the implementation of these new measures; the actions undertaken by the servicedesk and the role of the Netherlands Association of VET Colleges.

    We also would like to address the following topics:
    – What does the Dutch numeracy framework looks like?
    – Is focussing on generic numeracy skills for all students appropriate in vocational education?
    – Are the digital exams, designed by the Government, appropriate for measuring numeracy in (young)adults?
    – What are developments in teacher education in numeracy.
    – Should numeracy be integrated in vocational skills or should it be taught as a generic subject?

    Rianne Reichardt et al ALM 23 Paper

  • Time: 2:50-3:20, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Jeff Evans, Keiko Yasukawa, David Mallows, Brian Creese

  • Title: Numeracy Skills and the Numerate Environment: Demands, Affordances, Barriers.

    Abstract: In the PIAAC Survey of Adult Skills 2012 of 23 industrialised countries, the UK (England & NI) scored below average on adult numeracy. Several recommendations focus on the need for (some) individuals in the population to undergo training. Yet, even in “high-performing countries” like the Netherlands, many adults (1.5M) score at or below PIAAC Level 1 (“functionally innumerate”).

    How do all these people manage in important domains of their lives? Perhaps they are more at ease than some policy makers allow (Grotlüschen et al., 2016)? We consider the notion of an adult’s ‘numerate environment’, following the notion of a ‘literate environment’ (EU HLG on Literacy, 2012). We consider hypothetical sets of practices that particular adults may engage in, and the demands that these may make on the adult, the affordances (opportunities / resources) the practices may offer, and the barriers put up within these practices, and cultures more generally, that impede the adult’s numerate development. We give examples of each of these three aspects of adults’ practices, and consider implications for international assessments, and for numeracy pedagogy.

    EU High Level Group of Experts on Literacy (2012). Online:
    Grotlüschen, A., Mallows, D., Reder, S. & Sabbatini, J. (2016), “Adults with Low Proficiency in Literacy or Numeracy”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 131, OECD Publishing, Paris.

    Jeff Evans et al ALM 23 Paper

Wednesday, 6th of July, 2016.

  • Time: 10:15-10:45, Venue: CB1
    Presenters: Ann McDonnell
  • Title: Is maths really special?

    Abstract: Recent research states that; numeracy levels are getting worse not better in the United kingdom, that the cost of poor numeracy is felt by individuals, employers and governments, and that 1 in 4 adults do not believe that school maths prepared them for every day maths (National numeracy 2011, 2014). In my research the prime participants are young people (aged 15 and 16). In the focus groups these young people described maths as “a lesson only worthwhile if tied to everyday life”. I noticed that this was never the case when describing other subjects. In fact English poetry and Shakespeare were enjoyed by these young people and they could clearly express the transferable nature of these subjects.

    In this workshop I would like to:
    Share the words of these young people
    Discuss the question: Is maths really special?
    Explore and identify the components of a good maths experience at school and how this contributes to successful adult numeracy.

    Ann McDonnell ALM 23 Paper

    Ann McDonnell ALM 23 Paper – Additional Material

  • Time: 10:15-10:45, Venue: CB2

    Presenters: Fiacre Ó Cairbre

  • Title: Ten Reasons why adults should know the history of number when learning mathematics.

    Abstract: I will give a variety of reasons why adults should know about the history of number, when learning mathematics. The reasons are based on many years experience of teaching and promoting mathematics among adults in the general public. The feedback I receive from adults, regarding the history of number, is positive and often leads to a change in their perception of mathematics for the better. This change in perception is crucial in mathematics education. The duration of exposure to the history of number can vary from a few minutes to longer if appropriate and the level of exposure can range from basic to advanced if required. One important reason for discussing the history of number is that it shows adults where the idea of number came from and what society was like before the idea of number was created. Adults are familiar with number but many are unaware of how it came about. Another reason is that it shines a light on the humanity of mathematics and introduces adults to interesting characters. A third reason is that it shows the remarkable practical power of number follows from number being an idea and not something physical.

  • Time: 10:45-11:15, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Diana Coben, Keith Weeks

  • Title: Way beyond word problems – (re)presenting real-world issues.

    Abstract: In the course of our interdisciplinary research on numeracy for nursing we have developed a model of competence that we believe may have wider application. We will explore intersections between the real world and the abstract world of mathematics and consider how authentic learning and assessment environments may support cognitive bridging between these worlds and lead to appropriate outcomes for learners. We believe our approach may shed light on a conundrum for numeracy/mathematics educators everywhere: how to (re)present real-world issues in a form that renders them amenable to mathematical analysis and solution and builds capability in those who are not yet mathematically adept?

  • Time: 11:15-11:45, Venue: CB1

    Presenters: Laurence Cuffe

  • Title: NDM and mathematics; Working with how students really do maths!

    Abstract: The Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM) (Bryant 2002) framework examines how people, pilots, fire-fighters etc. make decisions in real life situations. It highlights the fact that a careful analysis of the problem, or a weighing of alternatives is not normally done, and instead, much decision making is made via a series of recognition strategies etc. Within this framework, expertise is seen as the process of developing and deploying a richer set of recognition and action strategies.
    If we acknowledge that this is the way that most of our learners are likely to engage with mathematics, it can shape how we present the subject, and it can aid us in training students to deploy maths effectively in both an academic context, and as part of their everyday lives.
    Bryant 2002: David J. Bryant, “Making Naturalistic Decision Making “Fast and Frugal””, 7th International Command and Control Research and Technology Symposium, Québec City, Canada, available via the CCRP Website:

  • Presenters: Lesley Wilkins*

    Title: Questioning the role of numeracy in Australian universities.

  • Abstract: During 2015 in Australia, there were urgent calls for more participation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses, at all levels of education, and the government announced funding for projects to encourage this. However, it is still not unusual to hear individuals speak with absolute negativity about their mathematical skills, abilities and understanding. Even those preparing to become primary school teachers may openly declare they are “bad at maths”, perhaps without realising the important role it plays in their lives. This is deeply concerning as such a negative attitude, lack of confidence and lack of ability to inspire may be passed onto their students.

    Numeracy does not seem to hold a prominent position within Australian university policies or in Australian society. Perhaps this is an unintentional consequence of the difficulty, for practitioners, of obtaining a consistent definition of numeracy and determining its role, especially compared to its more widely-recognised counterpart, literacy, and/or through its subjugation as one of the various literacies.

    This presentation discusses whether the absence of such numeracy policies inadvertently condones Australian society’s outlook towards mathematics. Do Australian universities have a responsibility to ensure that numeracy, in its own right, is an attribute that their graduates possess?

    *Note that the speaker can not attend, but wishes delegates to be aware that the paper is available from