New Zealand Mathematical Society

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New Zealand Mathematical Society Education Group

The New Zealand Mathematical Society Education Group’s aim is to advocate for the enhancement of mathematics education in New Zealand through collaborative and constructive engagement with stakeholders.

Focus Areas

The education group is currently considering two focus areas:

1. Liaison between education sectors.

2. First Year in Mathematics Teaching (FYiMaths): improve outcomes for students in undergraduate mathematics courses by sharing and developing teaching practices and building connections between secondary schools and universities.

Working Towards a Vision of NZ Secondary School Mathematics for the 21st Century

The Education Group has been holding dialogue towards creating a shared vision of 21st century mathematics for NZ secondary schools. In 2018, we established a foundational goal to guide the discussions.

Foundational Goal

Given the value of mathematics and statistics education to young people, at all attainment levels, and its crucial importance for future economic prosperity, any changes to NCEA should support the following goal:

All students should experience mathematics and statistics teaching that engenders the development of mathematical problem solving, reasoning, conceptual understanding and fluency, underpinned by confidence and competence in the skills of mathematics and statistics. Teachers and schools need to be given the systematic support and tools to enable this.

We would like to see more students engaged in Level 1 Mathematics and Statistics. Standards should be engaging, impactful, accessible (possibly using technology), and relevant to students.

We want students to see and understand that:

  • Mathematics and Statistics is integral to modern society. Students should have an appreciation of the importance of mathematics in wider society - in finance, GPS, encryption, forecasting, climate change, artificial intelligence, sustainable fishing stocks, design, epidemics, etc.

  • Mathematics and Statistics is creative. All students should experience creative mathematics and statistics, and creating mathematics and statistics.

  • Mathematics and Statistics is used to make sense of the world around us, for example, using mathematical modelling to connect mathematics with the real world.

  • Mathematics and Statistics is a connected body of knowledge. Students should make connections within and between Mathematics and Statistics. Students should be given opportunities to reflect on how mathematics and statistics grows from and relates to previous concepts, ideas, and skills by, for example, noticing commonalities and recognising patterns that occur across many different areas.

  • Mathematics and Statistics use technology as a tool.

  • Mathematics and Statistics is a human creation.

    • The language of mathematics and statistics is something that needs to be learned. There are levels to the language from informal to formal. A formula is not the same thing as the knowledge that the formula represents. Representation and communication of knowledge in maths and stats is a core part of the subject.

    • Students should be engaged in such questions as what was the historical problem that led to that branch of maths?

  • Mathematics and Statistics is a way of knowing.

    • Getting stuff wrong and figuring out how to fix it is a fundamental part of mathematics; the “right answer” is never the whole thing.

    • Logical deduction and data underpin problem solving. Logic is to maths as evidence is to science.

    • Mathematicians ask: Do I know this is true? Is it always true? How do I know?

We want students to have mathematical experiences which include:

  • conceptual understanding,
  • confidence and competence,
  • multiple approaches and ways of thinking,
  • how to read, write, and have conversations in maths.

Regular Events

NZMS Colloquium Education Day.

Every December.

NZ Association of Mathematics Teachers conference.

October in odd-numbered years.

Delta Conferences.

Every odd-numbered year. These are Southern Hemisphere symposia for academics interested in undergraduate mathematics and statistics education, including disciplinary specialists, education theorists, and tertiary education practitioners across sciences and engineering. In 2021 it will be based in Auckland but held virtually, November 22-25.

Recent Events

NZ Association of Mathematics Teachers (NZAMT) 2019 in October 1-4, Wellington.

Various members of the committee are running workshops. Look for workshops by Peter Beir, Dillon Mayhew, Julia Crawford, Kerri Spooner, Cami Sawyer with Rebekah Ward, Rachel Passmore, and Julia Novak.

NZMS Colloquium at Massey University, Palmerston North, December 3-5, 2019.

A regular feature of NZMS colloquiums is a Teacher Day, with a programme of talks, workshops and presentations on mathematics education issues. Also the Mathematics and Statistics groups at Massey University, with the support of the Manawatu Mathematics Teacher Association, hold an annual the Mathematics and Statistics Forum aimed at secondary and tertiary teachers and researchers. This year, the Colloquium’s Teacher Day, planned for Wednesday, December 4, will merge these two events.

The day will include keynote speakers and sessions of interest to mathematicians, statisticians, mathematics and statistics teachers, and mathematics education researchers.

The Teacher Day is organised by Cami Sawyer.

We encourage submissions on a variety of educational topics. In particular,

  • outreach activities you do for primary, secondary, or the broader community,
  • effective ways to help improve diversity in mathematics programmes,
  • university mathematics teaching.

We would be interested in grouping these presentations around a theme and possibly holding a related panel discussion. These might be scheduled on any day of the colloquium.

Igor' Kontorovich (UoA) and Ian Jones (Loughborough University) are offering a 2-hour workshop Thursday, December 5 (afternoon) for all university teachers who are interested in refining their mathematics teaching, ‘From undergraduates' systematic errors to tacit models that govern their thinking.’ In a discursive and collaborative environment, we will engage with contemporary research in mathematics education and put it in use to construct models of students' ways of thinking based on data from thousands of undergraduates. The workshop is partially funded by the International Group of Mathematics Education and fully supported by NZMS.

Workshop at University of Auckland, March 2019.

Post-rigorous thinking in Undergraduate Mathematics’ workshop with a focus on teaching and assessing for understanding, Keith Devlin.

NZMS Colloquium at University of Otago, December 2018.

  • Four workshops run by committee members:

    • When on-line pre-lecture quizzes are integrated into a course: Exploring the impact of a small-scale change in an instructional model in one large-scale mathematics course. Tanya Evans and Julia Novak.

    • Renegotiating the Didactic Contract: Understanding and managing student expectations about your teaching and their learning. Cami Sawyer and Julia Novak.

    • Promoting relationships between the secondary and tertiary sectors. Rachel Passmore.

    • Tertiary teaching talk: sharing stories. Peter Beir.

  • An afternoon unconference: Engaging with Educational Issues in Mathematics Workshop, where we discussed issues and strategies related to education.

NZMS Colloquium at University of Auckland, December 2017.

  • A session to help mathematicians understand the NZ secondary schooling system and how that effects universities.
  • FYiMaths session ‘Seeing the future: First Year Mathematics at University, the challenges faced by lecturers and students in an ever-changing landscape’.
  • Tertiary teaching talk: sharing stories.
  • Discussion around what is school mathematics and what should be taught in schools.

NZ Association of Mathematics Teachers (NZAMT) 2017 in Christchurch

  • NZMS Panel: Preparing for the Future, Transition from High School to University: Debating Technology. Moderator Cami Sawyer (Massey University), and participants Julia Novak (University of Auckland, Associate Dean Teaching and Learning for the Faculty of Science), Stephen McConnachie (e-Learning Coordinator and Mathematics Teacher at Middleton Grange School), and Dan Meyer (Chief Academic Officer at Desmos where he explores the future of math textbooks, educational changer, well-known blogger (dy/dan)).
  • FYiMaths workshop: Seeing the future: First Year Mathematics at University, the challenges faced by lecturers and students in an ever-changing landscape.

Executive Committee

The NZMS Education Group has a core Executive, listed below, as well as several members who contribute and stay in the loop.

Pip Arnold
Peter Bier
David Bryant
Julia Crawford
Tanya Evans
Sione Ma’u
Rua Murray
Julia Novak
Cami Sawyer
Kerri Spooner
Rachel Passmore

Contact Us

The education group is eager to engage with the mathematical community.

To stay up-to-date with our activities, like us on facebook, or follow us on twitter.

To become actively involved in the group or to make suggestions or comments, email