“Private tutoring may be key to East Asia Maths success,” says maths expert

Following up on the release of new research from UCL Institute of Education and the University of Cambridge (see details in earlier BNR) on the benefits of teaching maths East Asian style, Jeremy Hodgen, Professor or Maths Education at the University of Nottingham, warns against “importing” teaching methods from abroad:

“Our research identified several features of teaching in the Pacific Rim that appear to improve learning. In particular, we found that mathematics textbooks are better designed and used in countries like Singapore and South Korea than they currently are in England. However, we also pointed to the influence of private tutoring in the Pacific Rim. Indeed, we cautioned against ‘cherry-picking’ strategies from overseas.

We found that strategies that appeared to be associated with high achievement in one country were sometimes associated with low achievement elsewhere. It is also important to remember that many of the effective strategies used in the Pacific Rim were originally ‘borrowed’ from England. For example, Fong Ho Kheong, the first lead author of the now renowned My Pals are Here Mathematics primary textbooks in Singapore, learnt his craft when taking his PhD at King’s College London.”


NOTE: Professor Hodgen’s research mentioned in his opening sentence was “In Values and Variables” , a study for the Nuffield Foundation, we reviewed the research on mathematics teaching in the Pacific Rim.

Askew, M., Hodgen, J., Hossain, S., & Bretscher, N. (2010). Values and variables: A review of mathematics education in high-performing countries. London: The Nuffield Foundation.


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