Maths Eyes

An investigation into the effectiveness of Maths Eyes in different learning environments

Math Eyes is an initiative developed by Dr Terry Maguire. The idea came about when she was completing her doctoral thesis in 2000. She came across a book entitled Through Mathematical Eyes – Exploring Functional Relationships in Math and Science (Ritchhart 1997) which she further developed as an approach to making real life maths more visible. The concept of Maths Eyes as a resource to enhance mathematical numeracy and literacy1 in schools is currently being disseminated through education centres across the country of Ireland. Learners using Maths Eyes – an Innovative Approach to Building a Positive Image of Mathematics Handbook are encouraged to develop their Maths Eyes through different projects such as maths trails, carrying out maths investigations, making sense of maths problem pictures and posters and keeping a maths diary. By engaging in projects such as these, learners also develop increased positive attitude towards maths and strengthened mathematical confidence. Increased confidence will contribute to the national interest of raising mathematical achievement2.

Research Problem:
Although the initiative has been positively received by schools, students, adult learners and the wider community, the evidence to support this is so far only anecdotal. The purpose of this research is to establish whether or not the initiative of Maths Eyes contributes to increasing the mathematical confidence and whether or not influences a positive change in attitudes of those who engage in the programme.


  • To investigate the effects of participation in Maths Eyes projects, on the attitudes and confidence of those involved.
  • To promote Maths Eyes initiative for use in primary and secondary schools, adult learning environments and the wider community.
  • To develop a theoretical framework, based on Maths Eyes, to improve numeracy and literacy levels.

Work to be done:
The perception of attitudes and the definition of what is meant by being “mathematically confident” will be investigated through research of literature. This research will be employed to determine appropriate methods to identify and analyse the attitudes and confidence of participants. Pre and post analysis of the attitudes and confidences levels of the participants will be conducted. It is envisaged that a theoretical framework will be developed in response to the need for improved numeracy and literacy levels for life long learning.


Methods to be used:
The anticipated methodology for the project comprises of action research and practitioner research. It is also envisaged that a grounded theory approach will be undertaken to develop a theoretical framework through the analysis of data. Data collection will require the use of interviews, surveys and assessments of participant achievement.


Novel aspects:
The whole concept of ‘Maths Eyes’ is novel as an approach to teaching and learning in mathematics but especially to integrating numeracy and literacy in primary and Post (Primary schools) Junior Cycle. The approach is receiving attention in Australia and New Zealand and is currently being trialled in Austrian schools. There is no vehicle for integrating numeracy across the curriculum in Ireland and this looks like a promising vehicle with the added dimension of taking care of affective issues in student learning.


Further information may be obtained from:
Ms Aoife Smith BSc