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Use of psychology by teachers can boost maths grades, finds CfEM report

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The use of motivational psychology, personalisation and technology by teachers have the potential to improve maths GCSE resit grades, according to a new report from the Education and Training Foundation (@E_T_Foundation) on the Centres for Excellence in Maths (CfEM) programme.

The ‘Changing the experience of Further Education Maths’ CfEM interim report highlights success stories from a range of action research projects completed in colleges in England in 2020/21. The CfEM programme, which is funded by the Department for Education (DfE), is delivered by the ETF and partners.

Case studies and further action research projects

The 34-page report features 11 case studies, supported by more than 20 further action research projects. Each one celebrates and shares insights into what was tried out and evidence of its effectiveness.

Themes covered include motivation and engagement, effective use of technology, approaches to mastery and maths and contextualisation. Several CfEMs also investigated how to use interactive software effectively to engage learners and support their learning progress.

“Lecturers involved have felt more comfortable to think innovatively and in a less constrained manner when creating and planning maths lessons,” commented City College Plymouth (@CityPlym).

Impact of mentoring on learner motivation

Findings from the report revealed the positive impact mentoring can have on resit GCSE Maths learners, particularly on their attitude and mindset. Additionally, learners’ motivation was shown to have improved over the year due to staff discovering and implementing increasingly effective strategies.

The report concluded that “teachers’ understanding and applying motivational psychology is both a major challenge solvable through high quality training and a topmost priority for the FE maths sector”.

Adopting action research to improve practice

Cath Gladding, National Research Advisor, Centres for Excellence in Maths, said:

“This important research from the ETF shows that motivation and engagement among maths students is fundamental to improving grades. The success stories show how teachers can utilise psychological techniques, personalisation and technology to help motivate students and deliver better outcomes.”

The report will be revised and updated in Autumn 2022 after the completion of a number of action research projects being held during 2021/22.

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