Research Review of BSRLM 2003-2017

Rachel Marks, Nancy Barclay, Alison Barnes, Paraic Treacy

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    1 Executive Summary
    1.1 Introduction
    This review is a commissioned analysis of the 773 Proceedings arising from Day Conferences and which were published by the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics (BSRLM) during the last 15 years (2003-2017). It builds on a previously commissioned review of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics’ conference Proceedings from 1995-2002. The 773 Proceedings underpinning this review represent the outputs of approximately 1375 sessions (Research Papers, Research Workshops and Working Groups) presented at 45 conferences at locations across the UK and Ireland.
    1.2 Methodology
    This review was undertaken by a team of four researchers. It was conducted in two phases: a survey of the full corpus (covering 2003-2017) and an in-depth analysis and discussion of key themes arising from this survey. The full corpus survey involved the construction of a database and capturing of descriptive characteristics for each Proceeding (paper type, approach, phase, study population, data, research methods, and analysis). Further, each Proceeding was categorised using the Mathematics Education Subject Classification (MESC) list. Descriptive statistics were used to explore trends within and between characteristics. Further, splitting the review period into three time-phases (2003-2007, 2008-2012, 2013-2017) allowed the team to identify any changes over time. The frequency of keywords and thematic groupings of keywords informed the vital areas to be explored within thematic analysis. The reviewers’ tracking of narratives that developed through connected reports of research within the Proceedings also played a role in the selection of key themes to discuss.
    The outcomes of both phases of the review – in which strengths and gaps were noted – enabled the team to produce a series of seven recommendations for future work and developments that the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics and its Executive might consider.
    1.3 Review structure
    The review structure reflects the methodological approach of the review. A full overview of the statistical analysis of the 773 Proceedings is provided, followed by an in-depth discussion of three broad themes:
    • Phases and Topics in Mathematics Education
    • Policy, Curriculum and Pedagogy
    • Teachers and Teacher Development
    The review concludes with seven specific recommendations in relation to the future work of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. These recommendations are offered in the spirit of responding to identified gaps, ensuring the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics responds to all learners, supports a changing membership, including the growing number of teacher-researchers, and invests in the development of the next generation of mathematics education researchers. In doing so, the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics has the potential to continue to go from strength to strength, providing an important platform for the dissemination of significant research in mathematics education.
    1.4 Key findings and recommendations
    Building on the previous review (1995-2002), we note that many of the concerns raised in that document have been addressed, fully or partly. We see evidence of a growing membership, not only in terms of actual numbers, but also in terms of reach, with more teacher-practitioners, international researchers, and novel partnerships emerging. There is evidence of an increased focus on the primary phase of education and also on studies examining the involvement of teachers in their professional development. Policy changes also appear to have had a significant impact on the foci of research conducted.
    The themes which emerged in the present review strongly align with those coming through in international reviews, suggesting the work conducted within BSRLM to be representative of, and hence able to speak to and with, the wider field of mathematics education.
    While the corpus was found to have significant strengths, addressing many of the weaknesses identified in the previous review, we draw attention to some areas of concern in relation to absences or weaknesses in coverage, particularly the limited number of the Proceedings focussing on the Early Years Foundation Stage or learners with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
    The seven specific recommendations of this review in relation to the focus and dissemination of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics research are summarised as:
    i. A greater emphasis on identified population gaps (Early Years Foundation Stage, learners with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, Further and Adult Education), promoted through Working Groups or Day Conferences with a ‘special focus’.
    ii. Exploration of the potential of developing links with Early Years professional networks to address this population gap.
    iii. Discussion by the Society of ways it may support methodological innovation including the scaling up of small-scale research.
    iv. Discussion by the Executive of its role in supporting practitioner-researchers and in disseminating research to a teacher audience.
    v. Establishing ways in which the longevity, membership, and impact of Working Groups can be enhanced.
    vi. The development of keyword searching of the Proceedings on the website to support wider readership/citation of the Proceedings.
    vii. The inclusion of further sessions at Day Conferences supporting writing and dissemination.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages51
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


    • Mathematics education
    • Thematic review
    • Corpus survey


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