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Mathematical thinking in schools

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This module is designed to help you develop your knowledge and understanding of the teaching of mathematics. It is suitable for any Key Stage, and will broaden your ideas about how people learn and use mathematics. There is no formal examination: assessment is based on tutor-marked assignments and an end-of-module assessment. In order to complete the assessments, you will need access to learners of mathematics. Students on this module have worked with a variety of learners from Key Stage 2 pupils to adults. 

What you will study

This module is designed to:

  • develop your mathematical thinking
  • raise your awareness to some ways in which people learn mathematics
  • provide you with experience of different teaching approaches and the learning opportunities they afford
  • develop your awareness of, and facility with, ICT in the learning and teaching of mathematics
  • develop your knowledge and understanding of some important mathematical ideas.

Successful study of this module should enhance your skills in communicating mathematical ideas clearly and succinctly and explaining mathematical ideas to others

You will learn

The module starts from the assumption that mathematics education is an intrinsically worthwhile enterprise; it is therefore worth striving to understand its processes in order to do it better. The module aims arise from the nature of mathematics education as a process of human interaction, which means that certain aspects of the module can only be engaged with through practice. You will be expected to work on mathematics tasks yourself and consider the process you have worked through in terms of your thinking. From this perspective, the module offers ways of working that contribute to your own mathematical development and, by enhancing your work with other learners, can enrich learning and confidence.

Professional recognition

This module may help you to gain membership of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). For further information, see the IMA website.

Entry requirements

This module is intended for anyone aged 18 or over with an interest in the teaching and learning of mathematics. The focus of the mathematical content of the module is around the level of Key Stage 3 but the educational issues that are discussed are relevant for all stages.

Your own knowledge of mathematics should be at least Grade C in GCSE mathematics.

You do need to have a reasonable standard of spoken and written English to study successfully with us. Poor language skills will make study more difficult, and it will take longer. The normal requirements for English language skills are explained on our website.

The module is open to anyone, though it particularly has in mind mathematics teachers, those wishing to become mathematics teachers, teaching assistants, home-school parents and special educational needs coordinators working with learners of mathematics at Key Stage 2 or above.

If you are planning to study further modules in mathematics education, we recommend that you study this module first.

In order to complete the assessments, you will need regular access to at least one other learner of mathematics, from Key Stage 2 pupils to adults, on whom you will try out approximately two tasks per week.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

The study materials are only available online via the module website. There are no printed materials.

You will need

You will need a scanner, digital camera or mobile phone camera – to scan your appendices – if you wish to submit your assignments electronically via our eTMA system.

You will also need a headset with a microphone to make best use of the online tutorials.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with either:

  • Windows 7 or higher
  • macOS 10.7 or higher

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will provide support via telephone, email and online tutorials using software supplied with the study materials.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You can choose whether to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) on paper or online through the eTMA system. You may want to use the eTMA system for some of your assignments but submit on paper for others. This is entirely your choice.

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) must be submitted online.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying ME620 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Mathematical thinking in schools starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2019.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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