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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Moray House School of Education : Education

Undergraduate Course: Problem solving and enquiry in primary school mathematics (EDUA10152)

Course Outline
SchoolMoray House School of Education CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryEnabling children to solve mathematical problems is seen as an important goal of mathematics education. This course aims to introduce students to different approaches to problem solving and investigation in primary schools. It will draw on international perspectives and practices, as well as considering the context of the Scottish curriculum. Students will be expected to engage critically with both relevant mathematics education literature and curriculum policies. An essential element of this will be considering the ways in which problem solving and investigation develop children's abilities to think and reason mathematically. Practical coursework and paired micro-teaching will focus on developing students' ability to work with learners in solving problems, carrying out investigations, and problematising the learning of mathematics. The use of pairs will facilitate peer learning through collaborative preparation and observation. Students will also develop the ability to analyse and evaluate the difficulty and appropriateness of problems and investigations for different ages and stages of learning, and to construct new contexts, problems and investigations.
Course description The course begins by considering the current place of problem solving and enquiry in primary school mathematics. The historical influence of maths educationalists such as George Polya, Hans Freudenthal and Paul Halmos on the teaching of problem solving is studied, and the work and writing of recent and contemporary mathematics educators is debated. We compare differing international approaches to problem solving and enquiry and contrast curriculum policy in several jurisdictions with that of Scotland. Through study and critique of these and other aspects of problem solving and enquiry, students are encouraged to arrive at their own personal understanding of this element of mathematics education and to justify their understanding with reference to theoretical, research and policy perspectives. One seminar session is usually arranged as a practical experience of working with children in a local primary school.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs none
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 27, External Visit Hours 3, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 164 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1. An annotated portfolio of problems, contexts and investigations. (25%)
2. 3000 word written assignment (75%)

Assessment criteria:

Annotated portfolio:
Students will be encouraged to specialise in their portfolio, e.g. relating it to one stage of primary school or to a particular mathematical strand such as Shape.
The portfolio will be assessed on the extent to which it

1. identifies problems, contexts and/or investigations appropriate to the specialism of the portfolio;
2. demonstrates an analytic and evaluative approach to annotating the chosen problems, contexts and/or investigations;
3. identifies relevant questions or prompts to support learners in tackling the problems and/or investigations;
4. demonstrates a good standard of structure and style in its presentation.

Written assignment:
The assignment will be assessed on the extent to which it

1. responds relevantly to the question set;
2. demonstrates knowledge and understanding of theoretical perspectives on mathematical problem solving and investigation;
3. reflects critically on the application of theory to learning and teaching contexts, drawing on experience and relevant literature to support reflection;
4. demonstrates a coherent structure and uses written language and conventions of academic referencing accurately.
Feedback After the middle of the course, there is a peer and tutor formative feedback gallery session to support the portfolio assignment. Students are expected to bring one sample problem from their proposed portfolio, and to provide peer comments on fellow students' work. We spend around 1 hour on this session, with each student giving and receiving comments to and from several students. The tutor will provide feedback comments following this session to any student whose work she has not seen and who requests it.
Students are encouraged to discuss the plan for their written assignment in a one-to-one consultation with the course organiser.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theories and practices in mathematical problem solving and investigation.
  2. demonstrate the ability to analyse and evaluate features of problems and investigations which contribute to developing children's mathematical thinking.
  3. develop the ability to adapt existing mathematical problems, investigations and contexts, and to construct new ones.
  4. demonstrate skills in leading a group in mathematical investigation or problem solving, from initial presentation, through support and probing questions, to discussion of final solution(s).
  5. adopt a collaborative, enquiry-based approach to their own professional development.
Learning Resources
Resource list is available at

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Some aspects of graduate attributes which students will have the opportunity to develop through this course include:
Research and enquiry: be able to use systematic and collaborative enquiry to develop knowledge and understanding
Personal and intellectual autonomy: be able to use collaboration and debate effectively to test, modify and strengthen their own views
Communication: make effective use of oral, written and visual means to critique, negotiate, create and communicate understanding
Personal effectiveness: be able to work effectively with others, capitalising on their different thinking, experience and skills. Have confidence to make decisions based on their understandings and their personal and intellectual autonomy.
Special Arrangements The course is provided primarily as a core course for the MA Primary Education with Mathematics programme and as an option course for students on other MA (Primary Education) programmes. Priority will be given to students on these programmes. Any other student interested in taking the course, should first contact the course organiser to discuss whether s/he has appropriate knowledge of mathematics in primary education and suitable previous experience in teaching.
Study Abroad None
Additional Class Delivery Information The course meets weekly for 10 weeks, in 3 hour seminars. For each seminar there will be preparatory reading, and activity. Students are expected to work collaboratively to lead and observe short problem solving sessions. One session is usually spent working with children in a local primary school.
Keywordsmathematics,primary education
Course organiserMrs Susan Mclarty
Tel: (0131 6)51 6044
Course secretaryMiss Deirdre Houston
Tel: (0131 6)51 6381
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