EPI*STEM awarded funding to create online programme for mathematics teachers

Improving mathematics proficiency among Irish school children has long been a topic of national debate. Since its establishment in 2008, EPI*STEM has been at the forefront of research and education to tackle the challenge of mathematics proficiency in Ireland. EPI*STEM’s work has been furthered through a recent announcement of €350,000 from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to establish an online upskilling resource for mathematics teachers and tackling the challenges within Physics Teaching at Junior Cycle. 

Professor of STEM Education, Merrilyn Goos is a native of Australia who moved to the University of Limerick to lead EPI*STEM. With a unique insight into the Australian and Irish Educational system, she can see the benefits of strategic investments in Irish education. Prof Goos explains: “Ireland’s students have maintained their position as amongst the top performers in the PISA assessment of mathematical literacy, while in Australia there has been a steady decline in mathematics performance since PISA began in 2003. Ultimately the issue is always about the quality of teaching. The commitment the Irish government made in funding a national upskilling programme for mathematics teachers has made all the difference. The Professional Diploma in Mathematics Teaching (PDMT) graduated a total of 1,100 new mathematics teachers who have become a force for change within our education system.”

The team at EPI*STEM are now turning their attention to generate high quality online CPD (continuing professional development) for  mathematical teaching and tackling the issue of Physics Teaching at Junior Cycle. The group is set to expand its research staff through funding from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), SFI and Department of Education and Skills (DES). Since establishment EPI*STEM have attracted almost €4 million in research funding.

Prof Goos added; “This research makes a real difference. The EPI*STEM study that led to the national upskilling programme found that less than half (48%) of those teaching mathematics at post-primary level were teaching out-of-field (OOF); they were not suitably qualified to do so. Our follow up study on this cohort found the number has reduced to 25%. More and more Irish students are benefiting from expertise of qualified mathematics teachers.”

For further information go to www.epistem.ie