September 01, 2016

Thoughts on developing mathematical resilience from Nick Peatfield

Writing about web page

Nick Peatfield, University of Bristol and John Cabot Academy, develops the construct Mathematical Resilience further:

He writes: "Some general form of learning resilience was part of [many previous initiatives]. It was Johnston-Wilder and Lee (2010), however, who first tried to refine this notion to apply specifically to mathematics, and pull out some of the specific mathematical attributes and strategies that learners need to have in order to be resilient in doing mathematics."

May 09, 2016

Relevance of resilience to the primary SATs protest

Writing about web page

"... there are differences in how SATs are viewed by different children. Some perceive them to be stressful, while others view them as a challenge.

... How resilient a child is can reduce the negative effects of test anxiety on performance. Specifically, children who believe they can succeed, trust and seek comfort from others easily and who are not overly sensitive, can be better at combatting the problems associated with test anxiety. Parents may therefore help their children by attempting to nurture and boost their resilience."

November 30, 2015

Conference: Promoting Mathematical Resilience

Writing about web page

The conference booking pages are now live:

By request, we have increased the number of bursaries available to teachers and members of the community who wish to share the work they are doing to promote mathematical resilience.

November 28, 2015

Supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils: NFER report

Writing about web page

In terms of our work on developing mathematical resilience, the key aspects of this report are the finding that greater success for disadvantaged pupils was associated with a combination of metacognitive, collaborative and peer learning strategies, emphasis on achievement for all pupils, and addressing the needs of individual pupils.

This chimes well with our early findings about the efficacy of the growth zone model as a tool to support metacognitive awareness, and of developing the growth mindset, mathematical inclusion for all, collaborative (conjoint) agency and peer coaching (as opposed to peer tutoring).

November 06, 2015

What is mathematical resilience?

Our work on mathematical resilience is deeply rooted in the work of others, including Bandura.

Once a learner is mathematically resilient, they are able to "maintain self-efficacy in the face of personal or social threat to mathematical well-being".


November 04, 2015

Maths action looking at maths anxiety in girls

Writing about web page

It is great to see another organisation working to overcome mathematics exclusion.

The focus of this group is on inclusion of femininity in maths and on the need for mathematics inclusion and overcoming maths anxiety as issues of social justice.

October 30, 2015

Students using the growth zone model

I have had a lovely message from a teacher who uses the growth zone model.

She writes:

One of my students, when describing how they felt in the green zone, said: 'Proud because I know I can do it well'. Another, on the AS, said: 'I go straight from green to red because my orange circle is very narrow'. I love how this model gives students a meaningful metaphor and language to discuss their feelings.

It seems to me a significant part of the process that the students learn to recognise when they have a very narrow growth zone, and subsequently learn to grow it.

October 28, 2015

The student 'doesn't have it'

I have been talking with a delightful, mathematically resilient teacher who is exploring new pedagogic approaches to making maths ALIVE for her pupils: accessible, linked, inclusive, valued, engaging.

One of her students was described by a previous mathematics teacher as having "peaked; they just don't have it".

I suggest that, in the twenty-first century, with new knowledge of neuro-plasticity, this view represents not just a 'fixed mindset' ignorance of the excellent work of Carol Dweck, but also a practice of excluding certain kinds of learners; according to Bruner, amongst many others, all learners can progress but some may need an iconic or an enactive approach to concepts, to reduce the step-size and enable progression.

She and many other teachers have had success with algebra tiles; see for example:

October 26, 2015


This conference paper discusses the outcomes of the Level 1 Coaching for Mathematical Resilience course, for a group of 17 school students (Sept to Nov 2014), who were being expected to re-sit GCSE mathematics after demoralising previous failure.

The school students learned to manage their own reactions to mathematical ideas, to explore choices and to reflect on how to support themselves and others to find the resources to overcome affective barriers to learning mathematics. The transformations experienced by the participants have impacted on mathematics attainment and attitude and also more widely, and this impact has been recognised both by the individuals and by the school.


October 18, 2015

Supporting A–level students who thought they had left maths behind

This conference paper discusses the outcomes of the Level 1 Coaching for Mathematical Resilience course, for a group of 5 school students (Sept to Nov 2014), who volunteered to become ‘peer coaches for mathematical resilience’ in school.

The course provided a safe and collaborative working environment in which the school students learned to manage their own reactions to mathematical ideas, to explore choices and to reflect on how to support someone else to find the resources to overcome their own barriers to learning mathematics. The data confirm that once a school student has begun to develop their own personal mathematical resilience, they can successfully coach themselves and others to manage their anxiety and develop as resilient learners and users of mathematics.

Learner outcomes improved noticeably as a result and, as coaches, the students were able to coach others including at a higher level of maths.


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