Practitioner Enquiry

Kate Halpin

Curriculum Manager - Mathematics


Improving student participation and understanding in Mathematics through increased use of student problem setting and solving





  • One group of A level Mathematics students
  • I wanted to move away from a predominantly deductive teaching style. 
  • I also wanted to encourage students to hone the appropriate thinking skills for mathematics to enhance enjoyment and understanding. 

Key Actions:

  • For each of the activities a clear description of the task was given a day or two in advance. 
  • Students were to set a question on the given topic, solve it carefully, respecting the notation and language of Maths to make sure it was “solvable” with the methods and techniques they were learning. 
  • In class the next day (or 2 later) they would be matched randomly with another student. Pairs would then swap their prepared questions and solve them. 
  • The pairs would then check each other’s solution and comment on them. I obtained feedback via two questionnaires

Key Findings:

  • Decision mathematics problems were easiest to set and students found them enjoyable.
  • Pure mathematics problem setting and solving had varying success and enjoyment, but led to opportunities to discuss the language of mathematics.
  • Setting and solving problems improved as the year progressed.
  • During these activities students were animated and enjoyed them for the most part.
  • Both questionnaires indicate that students felt positive about the activities and felt that they helped to consolidate their understanding.
  • Opportunities arose during the activities to discuss the use of the language of mathematics. 

Click here to download full article