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Researching mathematics learning

This module is designed for the professional development of anyone working with learners of mathematics – whether as a teacher, classroom assistant, lecturer, adviser or parent. You’ll develop ways of exploring mathematics teaching and learning; interpret current thinking on the subject; and investigate aspects of the social and political context. You will consider tasks to generate pupils’ activity and explore the impact of different tasks on learners. You’ll also reflect and work on you own mathematics, develop your mathematical autobiography and explore further the readings and ideas that influence you most.


Start End England fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Oct 2016 £1416.00

Registration closes 17/09/15 (places subject to availability)

Click to register
This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.

What you will study

This module develops ways of exploring and examining mathematics learning at all levels, in a general context of research writing and reflection on mathematics education. It is a module in mathematics education, not in mathematics. It deals with identifying and exploring styles of task and their role in learning and teaching mathematics; aspects of apparatus and technology; working on transitions from sensitive teaching to professional development to research into your own or others' classroom situations and practices.

The aims of the module are to:

  • increase your awareness and knowledge of research work in mathematics education as a discipline, and how it might impinge on teaching and learning mathematics
  • enable you to reflect in depth on aspects of mathematics learning, including your own
  • enable you to examine critically established views about existing practice, and to engage with, interpret and assess research evidence on mathematics teaching and learning
  • enable you to carry out some exploratory personal research related to mathematics learning.

The module is in four sections plus a project. You are guided through each section by the study guide, which includes structured tasks with comments. Each section draws on the other study materials: one book on task and activity, two readers, a set book, audio material on CD and articles on the internet.

Block 0: Introduction to research

You begin by working on your mathematical autobiography. There is guidance to help you in reading and interpreting published writings in mathematics education.

Block 1: Noticing

You begin to develop skills in noticing details and formulating questions about teaching and learning in mathematics classrooms.

Block 2: Topics, tasks and activities and Block 3: Dimensions of interaction

Two central parts of teaching mathematics are providing mathematical tasks to generate pupils' activity, and asking questions both to find out what pupils have done and to explore and focus their activity. The middle blocks of the module examine these aspects in detail.

Block 4: Probing and being sceptical

The final block reviews the module, so that you can explore further the readings and ideas that have influenced you most. It also looks outwards at aspects of the social and political context of school mathematics education.

The module includes material on exploring the range of researchable possibilities; making records, including transcribing and analysing classroom scenarios and interviews using audio files; ‘commonplaces’ in mathematics teaching; the language of mathematics education writing; finding out in mathematics education.

Successful study of this module should enhance your skills in communicating mathematical ideas clearly and succinctly, explaining mathematical ideas to others, understanding complex mathematics education texts and analysing and interpreting critically research data and findings.


You must hold a bachelors degree from a UK university or other recognised degree-awarding body, or a qualification at equivalent level.

You need not be a practising teacher, but you should have experience of teaching, and you will need access to learners of mathematics. If you have taken any of the University's undergraduate level modules in mathematics education, you will be especially well prepared. 

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


ME825 is an optional module in our:

If you leave the programme before gaining the 180 credits required for a masters degree, this module will qualify you for a Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Studies in Education or, with another 60 credits from the programme, for a Postgraduate Diploma.

Some postgraduate qualifications allow study to be chosen from other subject areas. We advise you to refer to the relevant qualification descriptions for information on the circumstances in which this module can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements may change.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

Some of the study materials are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. 

You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.

Study materials

What's included

Module books, other printed materials, computer CD-ROMs, online forums and other activities. Two specially prepared readers:

  1. Mason, J. and Johnston-Wilder, S. (eds) 2004 Fundamental constructs in mathematics education, Routledge Falmer
  2. Allen, B.M. and Johnston-Wilder, S. (eds) 2004 Mathematics Education: Exploring the Culture of Learning, Routledge Falmer.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. You may also be required to perform other tasks, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment. The additional software for these tasks will either be provided or is freely available. For this module you will also need to install software provided by the OU on a disk or USB stick.

A Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system is suitable for this module. You will be required to install Microsoft Windows specific software.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Mason, J. Researching Your Own Practice: The Discipline of Noticing RoutledgeFalmer £31.99 - ISBN 9780415248624

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking this module.

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


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

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and end-of-module assessment (EMA).

The EMA is a small-scale investigative project that takes the place of an examination.

Students also studied

Students who studied this course also studied at some time:

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2015. We expect it to be available once a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Distance learning

The Open University is the world's leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you're at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you'll be supported throughout your studies - your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information about distance learning at the OU read Study explained.

Course facts
About this course:
Course code ME825
Credits 60
OU Level Postgraduate
SCQF level 11
FHEQ level 7
Course work includes:
3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Student Reviews

“This was a fascinating course and very relevant to my teaching. The books provided were excellent and recommended reading very...”
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