About the Unit

Unit objectives

The aim of this unit is to provide professional development for University lecturers and tutors teaching in the mathematical sciences.

Our definition of the mathematical sciences is broad and inclusive of any of the quantitative discipline (such as finance, mathematics, statistics, operations research, psychology). For simplicity, we will refer to this collective group as mathematics.

We will examine how students learn in mathematics and how you can use this knowledge to plan your lessons and units; when and how you might utilise learning technologies; how you go about writing assessment tasks and giving feedback; service teaching; and planning for your ongoing professional development.

This unit has been designed to provide practical, discipline-specific and best-practice strategies for teaching and assessment so as to enhance student engagement and learning in mathematics. The unit has been written by a team of your colleagues who have endeavored to make the learning activities embedded in your own day to day practice and context.

Unit background

This unit has been produced as part of a project funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) ("A national discipline-specific professional development programme for lecturers and tutors in the mathematical sciences"). The unit has been developed in conjunction with the Australian Mathematical Society (AustMS), with a reference group representing the Statistical Society of Australia, Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers, Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute, Australian Science Deans Council, the Australian Business Deans Council and Engineers Australia.

Quality professional development is highly successful in improving the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Mathematics education is a specialised teaching pursuit with its own forms, functions, representations and concepts; as such, it requires its own discipline-specific approach to professional development. Secondary school research indicates that professional development of teachers is an essential driving factor for improving student achievement in mathematics.

Our project, supported by AustMS, is a practical response to these challenges and makes a valuable contribution to professional development practice and principles. We have aimed to improve the learning of students based on the enhancement of effective teaching through discipline-specific professional development.

We have produced an accessible, practical and evidence-based unit that is designed specifically for tertiary mathematics teachers. In February 2010, we surveyed lecturers and tutors who are teaching quantitative disciplines in Australia and have included many of the needs identified by current teachers. We have designed and developed the unit to incorporate these. It was not possible to include everything so references and further readings are given at the end of each module. These materials were tested and refined through multiple iterations.

Unit authors

The cross-institutional team that has developed this professional development unit is as follows:

  • Leigh Wood, Macquarie University (Project Leader), leigh.wood@mq.edu.au
  • Nalini Joshi, The University of Sydney (Project Deputy Leader)
  • Walter Bloom, Murdoch University
  • Matt Bower, Macquarie University
  • Natalie Brown, University of Tasmania
  • Diane Donovan, The University of Queensland
  • Birgit Loch, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Jane Skalicky, University of Tasmania
  • Tori Vu, Macquarie University (Project Manager)
  • with contributions from Katherine Seaton, LaTrobe University


Unit coordinator: Katherine Seaton k.seaton@latrobe.edu.au

Support for this unit has been provided by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council Ltd, an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The views expressed in the project do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council. Unless otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Australia Licence.

participating institutions

Updated: 25 Feb 2015