Research Interests
My research is in post-16 Mathematics Education [Further (College) and Higher Education (University)]. I am interested in how people learn and teach mathematics and, in order to do that, I take a socio-cultural theoretical perspective because I believe that social and cultural factors are not only causative but constitutive of learning: the practice of “teaching/learning mathematics” is shaped not only by what happens “inside the head” (cognitive perspectives) but also by social norms, cultural tools, the teaching/learning approach, a set of priorities, dispositions and expectations, et cetera, all of which are socio-cultural in nature.
In particular, I am interested in Activity Theory (AT) perspectives on transition (e.g. boundary crossing from school to university or from mathematics to engineering or science) and identity (e.g. how individuals negotiate their identities as university students, young adults, future professionals, etcetera, or how lecturers do reflective identity work and how this shapes their teaching practices so that they become role models, inspiring their students in different ways). Along with AT, I have used sociological theories such as those developed by Pierre Bourdieu and Basil Bernstein to explain concepts such as resilience and alienation, and how can students develop science capital and a strong mathematical identity. More recently I am interested in conceptualising emotions and other affective issues using these theoretical frameworks.
I am also interested in dialogic pedagogies, not only as a way to encourage engagement, collaboration and achievement in the classroom but also as a way to enable students’ active and critical participation in society. In this respect, I am interested in researching pedagogies that bring together people from different backgrounds in challenging situations that promote ownership and responsibility (e.g. learning in Third Spaces through involving students as partners in their education), pedagogies that stimulate inquiry, dialogue and rich meaning-making (e.g. mathematical modeling and problem-solving, sustainable assessment) and pedagogies that make use of technological advances (e.g. pencasts, computer-aided systems for learning and assessment).
Recently I have been collaborating with colleagues to try to bring together qualitative and quantitative methodologies in a mixed methods approach to understand the study habits of undergraduates outside of lectures and tutorials; we have done this through Social Network Analysis.

Research Projects
These are the research and teaching development projects in which I have been involved to date:

(2018-2019) Practices of Mathematical Modelling in Higher Education in Norway and England. 
​This is a continuation of a previous project titled: "Discourses of Mathematical Modelling in Higher Education in Norway and England". In this project we aim to investigate the characteristics that some MM practices have according to how lecturers' talk about MM. The project is funded by the Norwegian Centre for Research, Innovation and Coordination of Mathematics Teaching (MatRIC) and is a collaboration between Prof Yuriy Rogovchenko (University of Agder, Norway), Dr Stephanie Treffert-Thomas (Loughborough University, UK) and Dr Olov Viirman (University of Gavle, Sweden).

(2017) Researcher Links Workshop: ​Gender issues in STEM education.
This was a  workshop jointly organised with Dr Angeles Dominguez Cuenca (Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico) and funded by the British Council and the Mexican Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACyT) through the International Newton Fund Programme. The workshop brought together early-career researchers from the UK and Mexico to discuss gender issues in STEM education.

(2017) Maria Agnessi Fellowship: ​Identity and Role Models in STEM.
This was a six-month fellowship to review the literature related to role models and their influence on the identity of students thinking on pursuing a STEM career. It was funded by the School of Science at Loughborough University.

(2016-2017) Unsettling understandings of mathematics anxiety: A critical synthesis to inform policy and practice.
This was a commissioned review by the British Academy on the literature on Mathematics Anxiety. It was a collaboration between Dr Maria Pampaka, Prof Julian Williams, Dr Jackie Carter and Prof Kevin Woods (The University of Manchester) and Dr Kevin Ralston (University of Edinburgh).

(2015-2016) Discourses of Mathematical Modelling in Higher Education in Norway and England. 
In this project we investigated how mathematics lecturers in Norway and England talk about Mathematical Modelling. It was funded by the Norwegian Centre for Research, Innovation and Coordination of Mathematics Teaching (MatRIC) and was a collaboration between Prof Yuriy Rogovchenko (University of Agder, Norway), Dr Stephanie Treffert-Thomas (Loughborough University, UK) and Dr Olov Viirman (University of Gavle, Sweden).

(2012-2013) Mathematical Modelling and Problem Solving in Science and Engineering.
The MMPS project aimed to equip first year STEM undergraduates with a high level, transferable skill: "the ability to solve problems in science and engineering by setting up mathematical models and using mathematics". It was funded by the HE STEM Programme.

(2012) Mathematics Lecturers' Practice and Perception of Computer-Aided Assessment.
This case study was part of the Mapping University Mathematics Assessment Project funded by the HE STEM Programme.

(2011-2012) Engaging Materials Engineering Students by Teaching Mathematics in Context.
This project was aimed at creating resources to introduce Mathematical Modelling in the teaching of Materials Engineers. It was funded by the Centre for Academic Practice at Loughborough University.

(2011) Promoting Participation and Engagement in Post-compulsory Mathematics Education for STEM.
This was a knowledge transfer project that followed the Transmaths projects and aimed to promote participation and engagement in mathematics at post-compulsory education in the UK. It was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council.

​(2008-2009) Mathematics Learning, Identity and Educational Practice: the Transition into Post-compulsory Education.
This project aimed to understand how different pedagogical practices in mathematics at school (GCSE) and in transition to college (AS level) impact on students' dispositions and choices of subjects in post-compulsory education, and how these interact with the students' socio-cultural context. It was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council​​​ . It was part of the Transmaths projects.
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Students
These are my current and previous students, whose project I am supervising or have supervised:
Postgraduate Students

  • Stephen Broughton [MPhil] (with Dr Carol Robinson) (completed).
    • His thesis is a study of the effectiveness of Computer-Aided Assessment (CAA).

  • Eirini Kouvela [PhD] (with Prof Tony Croft) (completed). 
    • Her thesis is a study on transition to University and how different messages are intrepreted and enacted by first year undergraduate mathematics students.

  • Nikolaos Vlaseros [PhD] (with Dr Dave Hewitt).
    • His thesis is a study of how Pedagogical Content Knowledge is delivered in Teacher Training courses.

Undergraduate Students (final year projects)

  • Arun Godwin Patel (with Dr Lara Alcock) (completed).
    • His project is a Social Network Analysis of first year undergraduate mathematics students collaborative study habits and the impact this has on their achievement.

  • John Brooks (completed).
    • His project is a study of the impact of dialogue in mathematics lectures.

  • Emma Wills and Robyn Potter (completed).
    • They developed and evaluated a mathematics diagnostic test for first year undergraduate students.

  • Elizabeth Washington (completed).
    • Her project is a study of procedural and conceptual understanding of linear algebra concepts of third year mathematics students.

If you are interested in pursuing a PhD in any of my areas of interest, please contact me to discuss ideas. 

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