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CER Seminar. From Post-its on the dining table to multi-national collaboration: A decade of serendipity in mathematics education research

Updated 29.04.2021

Wed 26 May 2021

16:30 – 17:30



The word serendipity describes the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way, “a fortunate stroke of serendipity”. Our talk will trace the path of how the simple recognition of a gap in KS1 mathematics learning and teaching emphasis, developed into a large five-year research project FoNS (Foundational Number Sense), serendipitous conversations and collaborations with colleagues across Europe. This work led to further ideas, reviews, papers and intervention studies.

Led by: Judy Sayers (University of Leeds) and Paul Andrews (Stockholm University).

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Presenter Biographies

Dr Judy Sayers joined the University of Leeds in September 2018, after five years at the department of mathematics and science education, Stockholm University, in Sweden 2013, first as a post doctorate, then as a senior lecturer in mathematics education with an interest in early mathematics. Prior to this Judy worked for ten years at the University of Northampton UK as a senior lecturer for teacher training and masters’ courses, after beginning a career in education as a primary teacher in Hertfordshire in both lower and upper primary school. Her research interests continue to focus on how to support teachers of young children in the learning of rich mathematics education. Providing a strong foundation on which to grow. She is currently the Co-I of FoNS (Foundational Number Sense) Project based in Sweden, comparing English and Swedish teachers’ and parents’ perspectives on learning number sense in year one, the first formal year of education. Twitter @JudySayers1

Paul Andrews is a Professor of Mathematics Education at Stockholm University. In 2015, he was awarded a Swedish Research Council grant of more than SEK 9 million to investigate the development of foundational number sense in year one children in England and Sweden. Paul has a wide range of research interests. He is particularly interested in exploring ways in which mathematics can be taught more effectively to learners of all ages, and current projects include foci on problem solving, linear equations and foundational number sense. He continues to be interested in how mathematics teaching varies cross-culturally and the influence of participants’ beliefs on classroom activity and learner achievement. For a number of years he has been concerned about and seeks evidence to support a challenge to the hegemony of the OECD’s PISA project, which, he argues, has a disproportionate and largely unwarranted impact on the cultural uniqueness of a country’s educational ambitions.


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