Where is the best place for Master of Education (MEd) students to learn how to support children having trouble with maths? In the classroom, of course.
Since 2005, lecturer Anne Bayetto has taught and supervised the topic Numeracy, Mathematics and Learning Difficulties, which brings postgraduate students into one-on-one contact with students at the local Bellevue Heights Primary School.
“One of the qualities we’re trying to engender with our Uni students is their ability not only to understand the research and the theory, but also how they transfer that into working practice,” Mrs Bayetto said.
And so, once a week, every week for a semester, Mrs Bayetto and her MEd students spend three hours at the school.
The topic introduces some of the big issues in numeracy and mathematics for students with learning difficulties and their teachers, as well as the practices for dealing with them.
“We discuss why some students struggle with math and numeracy and we start to unpick big questions around teacher knowledge, about curriculum, about delivery,” she said.
Bellevue Heights Primary School teachers nominate students who they believe would benefit from intervention. Each MEd student is assigned a young person for the semester.
They observe the student in the classroom, undertake a diagnostic assessment and write a report for the teacher and parents. They then implement an intervention program.
At the end of each session, the MEd students participate in a lecture/workshop and discuss their intervention program with each other.
“Toward the end of the semester, the students prepare summative reports for the teacher and parents, indicating what has been achieved and what recommendations they have for ongoing support in that area of math.”
Bellevue Heights Primary School Assistant Principal Mary Arnold said the school is very keen to continue its role in the program, which has been a positive experience to date.
“Making links with the broader community, including Flinders University, is a school priority,” Ms Arnold said.
“The students enjoy the one to one contact with the MEd students and appreciate that they are helping them with an area of difficulty,” she said.
Mrs Bayetto said that feedback from the Uni students had always been “very strong”.
“They really enjoy the opportunity to put the theory into practice and to see it through,” she said.