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Student and tutor module reviews

Mathematical thinking in schools

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  • Points: 30
  • Code: ME620
  • Level: 3
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Student reviews

I really enjoyed this module both on a professional level, working as a TA in a primary school, and as a mum of two teenagers.
I found it fascinating to look at maths from a different standpoint; it's not just doing the maths but more about how and why it is learnt.
The beauty of this module is that your own, or your student's, mathematical skills do not have to be amazing in order to complete the tasks. In fact it's more insightful when you get stuck and have to work your way through a problem.
The tutors were excellent and the tutorials were well run. I would recommend this module to anyone working with children of school age.

Course starting: October 2020

Review posted: November 2021

Found this module very challenging.
It made me more aware of my learning style and opened my mind to new methods of study. It also gave me a new respect for teachers - it's a much more difficult profession than I imagined!
The exercises in thinking about mathematics and how we relate to it as people were good for my personal development. It helped me develop a view of myself as a mathematician, even at a low level.
Tutoring was very good and supportive.
I took this module as a way of exploring a career move into teaching and it proved informative, though mainly by making me realise I might not be suited to the task and would need to work really hard to achieve much.
Because it is less rigidly structured than most mathematics modules, it is easy to underestimate the amount of reading required - and the amount of just Thinking Really Hard - often about quite abstract stuff.
It is really tough! And...there are no answers at the back of the book!!
For all that, I loved doing this and found it rewarding. I would like to do it again, only better!

Martin Green

Course starting: October 2020

Review posted: May 2021

As I was taking my last two modules, I chose ME620 on a bit of a whim as I wanted a change from the usual Mathematics module. It turned out to be the best decision of my degree. The module is very interesting - you begin by undertaking mathematical problems and puzzles as a learner - as the module develops, you switch in emphasis to teaching with learners, and you analyse how learning frameworks move your mathematical thinking forward and that of your learners, as well as theories around it all. My tutor was incredibly helpful and effective at provoking me to think about the subject matter and encourage me to give my opinions on it (backed up with evidence, of course! Tip - always give evidence!) Be warned that writing essays/reports are quite a habit to get back into if you haven't done it for a few years (or 25, in my case) and the deadlines always seem quite tight, with little chance to take a break. But if you do put the time, reading and effort into this one you will take so much from it. From being at a loss at how to express my scattered thoughts over 800 words in the first assignment, I came out of it with a Distinction. In fact, I've been inspired to undertake teacher training as a result.

Edwin Evans

Course starting: October 2020

Review posted: May 2021

Initially, I was quite worried about taking on this module having come from a mathematics background and not written an essay style assignment for a very long time. Thankfully the first tutor-marked assignment (TMA) was good practice to get into the swing of things without the pressure to do well at it since it was not graded. I found the tutorials extremely helpful when it came to TMA preparation. Lots of great advice and tips given by the module tutors. The module texts were easy to work through and keep up with, with some great tasks to get you thinking and help with the reflection process. The feedback received in my TMAs was helpful and productive which enabled me to improve with each assignment and even prepare me for the end-of-module assessment. I would strongly recommend this module for anyone considering a career as a teacher or teaching assistant as it really gives you some great advice and food for thought when working with learners and also prepares you for the reflection and assessment processes required. I have thoroughly enjoyed this module and I am really looking forward to more of the mathematical education modules.

Natalia Martyn

Course starting: October 2020

Review posted: April 2021

I was apprehensive about this OU level 3 module (first one) at the start as it involved essay writing. Having previously completed modules on the Q46 Mathematics and Its Learning pathway involving different branches of real, regular Maths, this module was different as it showed me the mathematical thinking and processes behind the problem-solving learners face and how we as educators of learning can use frameworks such as DTR, SGCV, MGA and SEM to help reflect our learning/teaching experience. I had never thought of looking at Maths from this angle. It was an eye-opener and I found it exciting to be able to apply it when supporting learners and see the positive response to my actions.

I would highly recommend this module to anyone hoping to go into teaching as it makes you slow down your 'automatic mode' of just wanting to get the correct answer and break it down to basics and seeing it through the eyes of a learner and think through the processes. Being able to represent the problem using a variety of tools is an invaluable skill in the classroom in order to cater for the needs of the students and this module gave me the opportunity to explore that.

Doing this module first has helped me immensely prepare for the other two educational modules required for Q46. I now have the confidence to reflect on my work and write up assignments.

The tutors on this module were excellent, always available come night or day and the forums proved to be an invaluable place for information. My tutor was very supportive whenever I had a query and offered one to one tutorial, which were very beneficial. Following the guidance of the tutors and feedback from TMAs helped me improve my assignments and successfully completie this module.

I hope you enjoy doing this module as much as I have. Good luck.

Sonia Milki

Course starting: October 2019

Review posted: May 2020

A challenging but very rewarding module. It is worth saying at the outset that this is really focussed on the theory and practice of teaching; not everyone on the module seemed to have done their research ahead of signing up.

I am starting Initial Teaching Training (Secondary Computing) after this, my last OU module. I strongly believe the way we are asked to challenge our conceptions of what learning is and to examine in detail how people learn will stand me in really good stead. In addition, the building up of written reflection skills is already coming into it's own as I do various preparatory tasks.

It can seem a little esoteric at first, but I guarantee if you throw yourself into it, and use the excellent tutors for advice, you'll get so much out of this if you have any intention to teach.

Ultimately, I'd rank this as the best module I took in my degree, and very probably the best I've had tutor too (and they've nearly all been great!).

David John Dodwell-Bennett

Course starting: October 2019

Review posted: April 2020

I did this module to complete my Open degree. At first I found it difficult to settle into the study of this module as it is more about the psychology of maths. Whilst I had not studied mathematics at OU level 3, I really found it very interesting and managed to do quite well in my assignments. The tutors are very encouraging and helpful. My teenage daughters were my learners and we definitely gained a lot of confidence in our mathematical thinking. The pace of this module is quite fast and the tasks are challenging and take up some time. Best to re-familiarise yourself with some of the main mathematical topics beforehand if you haven't studied mathematics for a while.

Miriam Stephenson

Course starting: October 2019

Review posted: April 2020

When I first began this module I felt totally overwhelmed, out of my depth and quite negative about my ability to succeed. Six months later, I had finished the module with a 2:1 and a much better insight into how people engage with mathematical ideas.

I couldn't have made the progress I did without the help of my tutor, who was always at hand when I was in need and who went above and beyond the level of care I have previously encountered at this level of study, which supported me in realising my potential.

The module itself is fast-paced and you're always working towards your next deadline, which I struggled with at times due to taking 2 of these modules simultaneously and also working full time, so it is worth paying serious attention to the time commitment before embarking on this.

The content is one core textbook and a little further reading at times- journal excerpts etc.- which is very convenient as everything is one place and can be taken anywhere with you so you can read when you're able. The thing that I found most reassuring was that you're being marked on your reflection of the learning taking place, rather than on the maths itself.

I would definitely recommend this module.

Alexandra Jayne Routley

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: June 2019

I completed ME620 from Oct 2018 to April 2019, and although I got Level 2 pass marks for my TMAs, I ended up with a level 3 pass mark overall with the EMA, which I could have done better on, but just ran out of time at the end so submitted what I had. I was happy with my grade, as I have Level 3 pass marks on my other courses, but if you have the time and can work that bit harder a higher pass mark is achievable.

The module is really interesting, as in it encourages you to look and analyse at why you work mathematical tasks the way you do, what thinking goes on in your head, and you must jot all that down in your reflection to get higher marks. The assignments are doable, the word counts for each question are broken down and the reading is not lots and lots like for some other OU modules. You have to use tasks from the module, to do yourself and with your learners, and if you are not very good at Maths at GCSE level, or like myself have forgotten a lot, that's OK, because there are easier tasks and harder tasks, that you can adapt for your learner/s. A really good module overall, I liked it!

Kiran Gill

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: June 2019

I found this course to be extremely useful. Not only it helped me to unpack my own thinking process and understand why and how I approach problems in Mathematics the way I do, but also gave me the opportunity to analyze my students' thinking, and gave me several tools to apply in my teaching and enhance my students' understanding. The course tutor and the module team were very supportive and made it a great experience.

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: May 2019

I did ME620 in Oct 2018 as part of my Open Honours degree to gain credits at OU level 3. Most of my Open degree is Business Management related, but I enjoy maths and also as a Adult Education Tutor I found myself teaching Maths and English at Level 1 and 2/GCSE. I used my husband and brother as my two learners, who both did maths GCSEs 20 years ago, which are long since forgotten.

The workload is manageable, the tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) are really nicely broken down, with expected word counts in each part to guide you. As long as you really annotate the learners' work in the TMAs and relate it to the theory in the units, you can get really good marks.

I am doing Statistical thinking in schools (ME626) to complete my honours degree, and that's me done!

Kiran Gill

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: May 2019

Great module. Content was well organised and presented. Tutors were extremely supportive.

Jacqueline Gill

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: May 2019

I enjoyed the module very much. Once I got used to the online format and adapted the way I worked I found it easy and useful. The layout was good and I was able to study at additional times due to the online accessibility. The only thing I would like to raise for this and other modules is not being able to access tutorials on mobile devices, I know I would benefit greatly from being able to access recordings of the tutorials from a mobile device and would find it easier to watch the tutorial from a mobile device, but I am aware that is a whole university issue. Apart from that I enjoyed the module and the presentation of the module.

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: May 2019

Enjoyable module, with plenty of activities to attempt / choose from for assignments. Module content was delivered electronically (no paper version automatically issued, which I was pleased about as an iPad was far more portable than text books). There was no face to face tutorials but I found this advantageous as you were able to chat electronically and most sessions were recorded so you could play them back should you wish to, also you are not limited to one session, you can sign up for tutorials which fit in with your schedule. I found the tutors very helpful and knowledgeable. It was my first OU level 3 module and a vast change in emphasis, less so on technical ability/correct completion of tasks but rather more focused on interpretation, reflection and implications of outcome. Would recommend it as a good introduction to the OU level 3 reflective style of modules.

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: May 2019

The course was very different from what I was expecting but enjoyable. My tutor was very helpful and friendly, as were all the others, especially on the forum.

The tasks themselves were not difficult but still stimulating and challenge you to think of new ways to tackle and solve problems.

I did struggle with the assignments however. I'm not a natural essay writer and I found it difficult to improve on my capabilities. A sample essay would have been a very useful aid, particularly if it was made clear what sort of level of detail is required and the analysis/justification of each part.

I realise this is a level 3 module so it is meant to be challenging, however other modules have past papers as revision aids. I think this module would benefit from giving students more support with this.

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: April 2019

Faculty response

Thank you for your thoughtful review. You have really captured one element of the module in saying that the mathematics tasks were “stimulating and challenge you to think of new ways to tackle and solve problems”. Another element of the module is using education ideas to analyse mathematical thinking, and you have raised the good question of whether example essays would be useful. The module team does consider this regularly. We have made a decision to supply short examples of writing and commentary in the forum rather than whole essays. There is a concern that examples may be treated as templates, and this would not benefit students since the criteria for level 3 modules emphasise students showing some independence in their work.

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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