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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 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.

The module covers a fair bit of material at a good pace. If you are interested in debugging mathematical thinking and learning from different perspectives, in learners and oneself, this is a good module to enrol on. There are many other positives in the module. I found the student participation in forums rather low, even so, moderator support was always prompt responsive and efficient.
If you have no liking for tackling observational reflective essay writing tutor-marked assignment's with draconian word counts, think again! The module is challenging.

Christopher O'Regan

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: April 2019

This was my first mathematical education module, having done mainly science modules. I did not know what to expect as I signed up in the hopes that it would help me assist my daughter who struggles with maths.

I am really glad I did, because the course has helped me have better understanding of how maths should be taught, and it has helped me to become more patient while helping my daughter with her maths homework.

Tutor and OU support were excellent, especially when I came down with an illness near the EMA deadline. I managed a pass 2 and I don't think I could have done it without the support of my tutor, OU and my peers.

Anna Maria Prince

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: February 2015

This was my favourite course so far. The support was unprecedented - the forum was a dynamic place and provided so much assistance and help, both by tutors and students - this is what made the course so fantastic.

The theme behind this course is to think for yourself and to eventually be able to apply the techniques given in the study materials to any teaching subject, not just mathematics. The mathematics is only part of this course, it is also about recognising pupils individual learning needs at various developmental stages and how to adjust teaching strategies accordingly.

It was innovative and inspiring to say the least and I would highly recommend this thoroughly rewarding and engaging modern day teaching course to any new prospective teacher. I had a brilliant tutor who worked hard to direct students, providing excellent online tutorials. The workload was average but went unnoticed as the material was so interesting and managed to gained a distinction even though I had no prior teaching experience, I was sad when the course ended!

Elizabeth Justine de Havillan

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

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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