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How do people's relationships with maths influence their participation and achievement?

Welcome to the mathematical relationships identities and participation website. Its origins are in a series of six seminars held in 2006-7 and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the British Educational Research Association (BERA). This series brought together researchers in mathematics education and in education and identity to talk about how we can develop our understanding of relationships with mathematics and how they affect the way we participate (or not) in mathematics.

In England where we work there is a situation where an increasing number of students appear to be attaining highly in mathematics, yet there is a rejection of mathematics at post-compulsory level. Our aim was to address issues surrounding mathematics and learner identities by exploring how different theoretical approaches help us to explain patterns of inclusion and exclusion in mathematics education. In each seminar, speakers focused on a particular topic – selection and assessment, pedagogy, curriculum, choice and teacher development - through the complementary but distinct perspectives of ‘socio-cultural theory', ‘discourse theory' and ‘psychoanalysis'.

Dylan Wiliam, Candia Morgan, Pauline Davis, Julian Williams, Stephen Lerman, Tamara Bibby, Birgin Pepin, Tom Macintyre, Morwenna Griffiths, Jenny Shaw, Jo Boaler, Valerie Walkerdine, Mark Boylan, Hilary Povey, Tansy Hardy, Barbara Jaworski and Pat Drake, Cathy Smith, Patricia George and Sally Barton have all spoken at the seminars. About 40 people have attended each seminar, a productive mix of regulars who’ve been to every one, and people dropping in and out or attending when it was in their local university. We were able to include people from a broad range of communities - practitioners, policy-makers, established academics and research students. The presentations and the results of our discussions are on the seminars pages.

We want to continue the discussion and development of new theories and practices which work towards positive maths identities. We would like to hear from you whether you are a teacher, student or established researcher (irrespective of background). We will post here any thoughts or comments – please e-mail these to us.



Lancaster University



King’s College London

The University of Manchester

Institute of Education

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