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A new approach to teaching mathematics is delivering “extraordinary results” for thousands of Western Australian primary school students – with children who participate in Scitech’s Lighthouse Maths program now on average seven months ahead of their peers.
Delivered in partnership with Chevron Australia, Lighthouse Maths is a year-long professional learning program designed to improve teacher confidence and skill by introducing a problem-solving approach to teaching mathematics.
While traditional mathematics education favours memorisation, the problem-solving method gets students collaborating on problems to develop an understanding of how they reached a solution rather than simply learn a method.
In marking the International Day of Mathematics today, Scitech and Chevron have released the results of the program so far which over the past two years has seen 64 teachers enrolled, improving maths education for 1,728 students across Perth.
Based on a sample of 17 classes who completed the program over this period, standardised PAT-Maths test scores indicated students achieved on average seven months of learning compared to national average expected gains.
“We’ve had extraordinary results with the program,” Scitech Lighthouse Maths Co-ordinator Shyam Drury said. “We know what an average student’s results are and how much they tend to grow in a year and when comparing the results of the students, we saw consistently that they are progressing about seven months ahead to what is normally expected.”
The 2022 program also saw a 33% increase in teachers’ confidence in teaching the problem-solving method.
Kingsway Christian College teacher Stacey Green was a participant in last year’s Lighthouse Maths and said before the program she was always quite anxious to teach maths.
“I found through using the strategies of Lighthouse Maths and the powerful problem-solving approach that because the kids’ engagement and enjoyment of maths started increasing, my confidence with being able to teach maths also increased,” she said. “I love that this program has allowed students across the classroom to have access to maths in a positive and exciting way.”
Chevron Australia Technology Manager Matthew Johnson said programs like Lighthouse Maths were important to help prepare students with STEM skills for the jobs of the future.
“Maths and problem-solving skills are essential to our modern life, from unlocking new technologies to solving challenges that will enable us to realise a global lower carbon future,” he said.
Support provided by Chevron enables up to 32 primary school teachers across Perth to benefit from the program at no cost every year, including access to free resources such as coaching, whiteboards and books
Through workshops, coaching and networking sessions with peers, the program aims to empower primary educators with a toolkit to enhance their teaching practice and improve student engagement and achievement in maths and future-proof them for a changing world.
“Through creating this program and using powerful problem-solving to promote student thinking and sense making, we’ve figured out how to make the experience of learning and teaching mathematics incredibly satisfying and enjoyable so maths can be for everyone,” Shyam said.