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Influence of Government and Policy Makers on UK Classrooms

“Mathematics educators have often emphasized reasoning as one of the primary goals of
learning mathematics.” (Hwang et al., 2017)
The aim of this essay is to analyse the empirical literature which discusses the current government and policy maker’s influence on UK classrooms which suggest that introducing East Asian pedagogical practices would improve mathematical achievement and numerical reasoning to raise standards towards levels seen in renowned internationally successful nations.
In 2012, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Programme tested over half a million children from over 65 regions, countries and economies around the globe, with a focus on mathematical attainment. Mathematical performance, for PISA, was formulated to measure the ‘mathematical literacy of 15-year-olds to employ and interpret mathematics in a variety of contexts to describe, predict and explain phenomena, recognising the role that mathematics plays in the world.’ (OECD, 2018). To be successful on the PISA test, students must be able to reason numerically and use ‘mathematical concepts, procedures, facts and tools to describe, explain and predict phenomena’. (OECD, 2016). The 2012 study illustrated findings showing that children from Shanghai and Singapore were the top performers in mathematics, with the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling above most other counties being displayed by children from Shanghai. Whilst there were many other East Asian nations also in the highest performing group, three of our European Counterparts were also there: Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Results indicate that ‘23% of students in OECD countries, and 32% overall, failed to master the simplest maths problems’. (OECD, 2014). Almost half a million children took part in the PISA assessments in 2015, these children represent about 28 million 15-year-olds in the schools across the 72 participating nations, economies and countries taking part. (OECD, 2018). These findings and conclusions show that four countries within Asia continue to ‘outperform all other countries/economies in mathematics’ (OECD 2016). The first PISA results (OECD, 2014) surprisingly claim that ‘only 20% of the students in OECD countries frequently encounter mathematics problems that are set in real-world context and where argumentation skills are demanded’.
Another international-scale study, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) was designed to provide a ‘perspective’ on international teaching and learning in mathematics and science ‘designed to inform educational policy and practice’, was carried out in 2011. Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan were ranked in the top 5 respectively for 10-11 year olds (Mullis et al., 2012); the 2015 study showed that those same nations remained the most successful; with the remainder of the world remaining at least 23 points behind (the same margin as in 2011). The purpose in TIMSS’ aims are to ‘understand how mathematics curricula should be improved and how to improve students’ mathematics achievements’ (Mullis et al., 2012) through testing the numerical reasoning skills of children on an ‘international scale’. Furthermore, in 2015, results indicate that only 6% reached an advanced mathematical level where they are able to ‘apply understanding and knowledge in a variety of relatively complex situations and explain their reasoning’. In ‘Singapore, Hong Kong SAR and Korea 41-50% of pupils achieved the advanced benchmark, but 10% or fewer did in 34 of the 49 countries that took part’ at age 10-11 years. (Mullis et al., 2015). These results have been discussed, analysed and sensationalised; making national and international headlines on numerous occasions – educators and policy makers in the UK create the impression that it is surprising, demoralising and depressing that we are unable to challenge the mathematical abilities of the most successful countries. These reports of international success, however, should be used to motivate other nations and demonstrate the capabilities of children when given the ‘optimal conditions to succeed’. Mullis et al (20012) states that ‘they demonstrate that our children’s current achievement is not the best they can do; they can achieve much more’.
There have been many studies on the impact of East Asian methods due to their successful results in PISA and TIMSS surveys. For their theoretical study, Jerrim

Transformational High Impact Learning Practices and Alternative Breaks

Transformational Learning of High Impact Practices
High Impact Practices (HIPs) have garnered substantial traction in the higher education field over the past decade because of their transformational impacts on student development (Kinzie, 2018; Kuh, 2008). The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC

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