Research into the Impact of Project Maths on Student Achievement, Learning and Motivation

Emily Lamont, Suzanne Straw, Rebecca Wheater, Jennifer Jeffes, Anneka Dawson, Emily Jones, Mairin Wilson

29 November 2013

Technical appendices

NFER was commissioned by the Department of Education and Skills, Ireland, and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), to undertake research into the impact of Project Maths on student achievement, learning and motivation. Project Maths is a major national reform of post-primary mathematics curriculum and assessment in the Republic of Ireland for both junior and senior cycles. The methods used for this research comprised: assessment of student achievement and student attitude surveys; in-depth case studies; and qualitative analysis of a sample of students’ work.

Key Findings

  • Students report that they are frequently undertaking activities commonly associated with the revised syllabuses (for example, making connections between mathematics topics, and applying mathematics to real-life situations). However, more traditional approaches (for example, using textbooks and copying from the board) also continue to be widespread.
  • There is only emerging evidence in students’ written work that the revised syllabuses are impacting on students’ learning. This reflects the findings of the assessment of student performance, which shows that overall the revised syllabus does not appear to be associated with any improvement in students’ achievement and confidence.
  • It appears that students are developing a general awareness of the importance of mathematics in further study and in daily life, but in some cases they lack a sound understanding of which careers will draw on their mathematical skills and knowledge.