Notre Dame's future educators get lesson in teaching algebra

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 7-11-2012

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



Those who struggled to learn algebra in high school would appreciate the research being undertaken by Dr Chris Linsell into the ways in which children pick up the ground rules for algebra in their primary school years. Dr Linsell, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago in New Zealand, was kind enough to share his research and teaching methods around algebra to education students on a visit to The University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney Campus.

Dr Linsell's interactive lecture for first year Bachelor of Education students explored what is meant by algebraic thinking at the primary school level. His research has shown that in high school, students often lack the prerequisite mathematical knowledge that helps them to understand algebra. This knowledge includes basic numeric facts, inverse operations, arithmetic structure and equivalence. Dr Linsell demonstrated to Notre Dame's future educators a series of strategies that primary school teachers can implement, which shifts the focus of mathematics lessons from computation to structure, thereby providing the solid mathematical foundation students require to understand concepts such as algebra in later in years.

Bachelor of Education student, Larissa-Kate Vasili, said Dr Linsell's research provided valuable insights that would inform her teaching practice.

"Dr Linsell offered me some insight into ways in which I could enhance and refine my students' algebraic abilities and, most importantly, to prepare them for the skills they are required to demonstrate in secondary school," Ms Vasili said.

Dr Linsell was invited to Notre Dame by Tim Perkins, Lecturer in Primary Education and himself undertaking PhD research into alleviating maths anxiety in pre-service primary teachers.

"It is great to have an academic of Chris' standing, experience and passion come to work with our students here at Notre Dame," Mr Perkins said.

"Chris' research into the development of algebraic thinking is fundamental to improved mathematics outcomes for students which is something that is sorely needed both in Australia and internationally. Chris has encouraged us all to shift our focus towards recognising the responsibility and opportunity primary teachers have in establishing thinking frameworks which will support secondary students with their understandings of algebra," he said.

For further information please contact: Communications Officer, Elizabeth Fenech The University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney Campus

T: 02 8204 4407

E: elizabeth.fenech@nd.edu.au

W: www.nd.edu.au/