Comberton Village College A Level Maths Project

Comberton Village College opened a new sixth form in  September 2011 enabling the planning of a GCE A level mathematics curriculum that will enhance learning in a number of ways:

  • Teaching in a diagnostic manner by establishing pupils existing understanding at the start of each mathematical topic, identifying pupils’ needs and putting targeted interventions into place.
  • Using assessment points throughout each lesson to give teachers feedback on pupils’ comprehension of the new concepts under investigation.
  • Utilising devices with individual screens to allow differentiated questions to be used in mixed ability teaching groups.

We considered and evaluated pupil response systems and came to the decision that these were a poor investment in teaching and learning terms.  In addition, these devices were unable to support complex mathematical formulae and diagrams.  Following discussions, we became aware that pupils had access to smartphones, iPod touch, tablets and laptops with a colour screens capable of:

  • displaying graphics, diagrams, complex formulae
  • interactive touch screens or trackball
  • connecting to the school’s wireless network
  • photographing pupils’ work

As there were no existing software programmes that met our teaching needs we developed our own which delivers questions directly to pupils electronic devices and is capable of providing diagnostic information.  Teachers have found the assessment data this provides enables them to focus their teaching to where pupils have shown weak understanding.  The next stage of the project is to allow pupils to take photographs of their written workings as part of their response to questions.  This will enable us to focus on, and strengthen the focus of pupils, on their written solutions, rather than just on the answer.

At the heart of the project is the enhancing of pupil learning, and we will investigate how this system improves the mathematical understanding and attitudes of our pupils.  Through teacher observations we intend to develop a set of best-practice guidelines in order to structure effective lessons for using the electronic delivery system.  In addition, joint planning and assessment development will allow us to consider pupils misconceptions.  Finally, we will capture pupils’ attitudes towards this model of teaching and incorporate their views into the ongoing development of the delivery system.

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