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Maths trial to improve school results

24th March 2010

Teachers from 29 Queensland state primary schools have been trained in a new maths teaching method developed by QUT.

Professor Tom Cooper said 70 teachers from central and southern schools wishing to improve their maths results were trained during March in TIME - Teaching Inclusive Mathematics Education - a $1.56 million project funded by the Queensland Government.

Professor Cooper said the maths teaching program would be trialled at interested schools over the next three years, with the focus on Prep to Year 3 this year, Years 4-7 next year and Years 8-9 in 2012.

He said mainly low socio-economic schools, from Rockhampton to North Stradbroke Island, had signed up for teacher training in the program which was not a radical new maths teaching method but took a holistic approach.

Professor Cooper said the goal was to lift the performance of disadvantaged students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, in national maths tests.

TIME was developed at QUT's new YuMi Deadly Centre, within the Faculty of Education, by Professor Cooper and centre director Associate Professor Annette Baturo.

The YuMi Deadly Centre, which officially opened this week (March 22), has $4.7 million in federal and state grants to undertake research in maths education. (YuMi means "you and me working together for all".)

Teaching Inclusive Mathematics Education grew out of work by Professors Baturo and Cooper with dozens of Indigenous schools over the past decade.

"Most traditional teaching of maths tends to go from parts to whole," Professor Cooper said. "We go from whole to parts. Once you have the structure, you can do the smaller stuff.

"When we are teaching the basic strategies we also tend to teach the maths slowly. We say, 'why does that work?'

"Once you get the idea, even slowly, you've got something in your head that will last you forever."

Professor Cooper said maths teaching also had to be relevant to students' lives.

"You can't go out into the country and teach maths based on examples from the city," he said. "Out at Boonah they are farmers so you talk about sheep and cows; at Mornington Island it's fishing."

Professor Cooper said Australian students performed poorly in maths compared with countries such as India.

A big performance gap also existed between Australian students from higher socio-economic backgrounds and those from lower ones.

Media contact: QUT media officer Elizabeth Allen on 07 3138 4494 or

A high res pic is available of principals from Dunwich, Kingston and Zillmere state primary schools being briefed in TIME.

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