Dr Niamh O’Meara and Dr Mark Prendergast (Trinity College Dublin, formerly of ) have received funding from the Irish Research Council, under the New Foundations Scheme, to conduct a research project entitled “Is there TiME (Time in Mathematics Education)?” The project will run from March 2015 until August 2016 and will be conducted on a national scale.
The introduction of Project Maths in 2010 has prompted a number of reports and studies to suggest that there is an insufficient amount of time allocated to teaching mathematics in Ireland (Department of Education and Skills, 2011; Cosgrove et al., 2012; Irish Maths Teachers Association, 2012; Jeffers et al., 2013; Beggy and O’Meara, 2014). However, none of these reports have provided concrete evidence of the exact amount of time allocated. Thus the main aim of this project is to investigate such issues surrounding the allocation of time for instruction. The key objectives are to (a) establish the instructional time profile on an evidential basis showing the amount of time allocated to teaching mathematics in second level Irish schools and also how this time varies from school to school, (b) compare this time with other countries whose students are performing significantly better than Ireland in international comparison studies and (c) investigate the prevalence of the practice of mathematics teachers providing extra classes for their students to make up instructional time.
There are numerous potential impacts and benefits associated with this project. It is anticipated that the findings will (1) highlight issues surrounding instructional time allocated to teaching mathematics in second-level Irish schools by international comparisons and (2) draw attention to the prevalence, or otherwise, of other non-official instructional time inputs.
Such findings will have a positive impact on the teaching and learning of mathematics in Ireland. They will:
- Provide concrete evidence to support a number of reports in recent years which have recommended an increase in the number of mathematics classes per week in second-level Irish schools.
- Underline the need to standardise the amount of class time currently allocated to the subject in different schools around the country.
- Highlight the dependence of effective mathematics teaching on voluntary inputs.
Dr Niamh O’Meara (Lecturer in Mathematics Education, EPI•STEM)
Dr Mark Prendergast (Associate Professor in Mathematics Education, Trinity College Dublin)