Teaching maths ‘a passion’ for Master of Research student, recognised with new fellowship

16 December 2014

A mathematics specialist who wants more students to study the subject at higher levels and become maths teachers has this week won the inaugural Brother John Taylor Fellowship.

Mark Gronow – Master of Research student at Macquarie University and Head of Mathematics at Stella Maris College in Manly – is the first winner of the $25,000 research prize, initiated by Catholic Education Commission NSW (CECNSW) to promote teacher quality, particularly in the Catholic context.

Mr Gronow will use the award to improve student engagement with mathematics and make it a more attractive choice at higher levels.

“The number of students studying maths at a higher level has declined over the past 20 years, and our universities are producing fewer mathematics teachers as a result,” he said.

“The shortage of qualified maths teachers has reached an alarming low – especially in regional areas – and this should be a major concern for all school sectors.”

Mr Gronow has worked in Catholic education for more than 30 years. He has also held the post of Head of Mathematics at three other schools and says he is passionate about the subject.

He first completed a Master of Educational Leadership in Macquarie’s School of Education, then progressed to the new Master of Research degree, as a pathway to a PhD in mathematics education.

His supervisor, Joanne Mulligan, says “Mark is my first Master of Research (MRes) student in this new program, so it’s exciting to see him recognised with this fellowship.

“Mark’s MRes will allow him to progress to a PhD in his research into teacher’s pedagogy. His structural approach to teaching maths in the junior secondary school is connected to our/my extensive ARC funded research here at Macquarie over the past decade on ‘pattern and structure’ in early learning, and also to our ground-breaking work in the current Opening Real Science project.”

Mark, aims to complete the Master of Research by 2016 and extend his work to the PhD study which focuses on the link between understanding mathematical structures and being engaged in mathematical thinking

“Success in mathematics is closely linked to engagement, which requires qualified, confident teachers.

“My research project will address how maths teachers can refocus their teaching to concentrate on ‘structure’, which involves thinking mathematically to solve problems, recognise patterns, notice similarities and differences and understand basic number and operation concepts.”

CECNSW chairman Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said Mr Gronow was chosen because he wanted to improve confidence, motivation and engagement in mathematics by both students and teachers.

“Mark knows the solution to better student achievement in mathematics is better teaching and avoiding the great ‘turn-off’ because students feel they cannot succeed. His research will be published on CECNSW’s website as a resource for all mathematics teachers, in NSW and beyond.”

Filed under: Education Research