Research Interests
My research is in post-16 Mathematics Education [College and University]. I am interested in how people learn and teach mathematics and, in order to do that, I take a socio-cultural theoretical stance 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.
I am interested in Activity Theory (AT) and other social learning 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). In my research I also use 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, as a way to investigate teaching practices that encourage enjoyment in mathematics
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).
More recently I have been interested in bringing together qualitative and quantitative methodologies in a mixed methods approach to study the social capital of undergraduate students (e.g. their study habits outside of lectures and tutorials and how they form peer study groups). I have done this through Social Network Analysis.

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

Following are two suggested projects that reflect the type of research that I would be interested in supervising:
Project 1. Studying mathematics teaching practices that encourage positive emotions in students. This project aims to research what different students find enjoyable/engaging in the different mathematics teaching practices that they experience, and if these practices have an effect in their learning and subsequent attainment. The research is expected to be framed in social learning theories, and how emotions can be conceptualised through these frameworks.

Project 2. The concept of social capital (friendship networks, peer study groups, etc.) is important to understand how learning happens as a social activity. This project will study how mathematics students develop their social capital and if different distributions of such capital affect the learning and attainment in the subject. Other important issues to study are the roles of brokers (i.e. people that link different social groups) and practices that encourage “better” distributions of social capital in a group.  
  
Research Projects
These are the research and teaching development projects in which I have been involved to date:

(2018-2019) Using narrative in the teaching of mathematics to science students.
This is a teaching and learning development project aimed at designing a first-year foundation mathematics course using a narrative style of teaching, in order to bring purpose and direction to what is learnt. The objective is to produce a coherent and meaningful syllabus by using narrative principles that are universal to human experience. The project is funded by a Transforming STEM/Transforming Learning Inter-disciplinary course design grant from the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology at Swinburne University, and is a collaboration with Dr Nathan Clisby.

(2018-2019) The relation between lecturers' views and 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.

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