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Dr Cathy Smith

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Professional biography

I am Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Statistics, and lead the Mathematics Education team.

I was educated at Cambridge, IOE and London Metropolitan Universities, where I completed a mathematics degree, then a PGCE, MA, and eventually PhD in Mathematics Education. After my early years teaching mathematics in secondary comprehensive schools in Hertfordshire and Suffolk, I became a teacher educator and researcher. I have worked on the mathematics pedagogy aspects of teacher education at Homerton College and the Education Faculty, Cambridge and then IOE in London, where I also led the Masters in Mathematics Education. I joined the Open University in July 2017 with responsiblity for research and curriculum development. 

Research interests

My main research theme is participation in pre-university mathematics. From a post-structural perspective, I am interested in the discourses of ability, pleasure, gender and exceptionalism that are produced by the current English system in which students choose whether to study mathematics after age 16, and in how these discourses may change as government policy moves towards compulsory mathematics across different pathways. From a practical perspective, I am interested in how teachers learn to teach the connected topics of A-level mathematics, and how schools and universities can promote girls' and women's participation in mathematics.  

I was principal investigator of a research project Supporting Advanced Mathematics, funded as part of the Further Mathematics Support Programme 2014-17, that used research to identify and develop strategies for increasing participation and capacity in A-level mathematics.  Sub-projects included: identifying strategies used by schools with high girls' participation in mathematics; studying the effects on teachers  and departments of engaging with the FMSP to provide Further mathematics, studying the rationale, induction and professional learning effects of teaching A-level in early career. 

Teaching interests

I have worked on subject knowledge and pedagogy strands of teacher training at undergraduate, post-graduate and masters level, as well as supervising doctoral students.  I am now working on the production and presentation of the OU's undergraduate modules in Mathematics Education and its short courses for teachers on Open Learn.

Impact and engagement

My work on mathematics participation and teaching A-level in early career has contributed to developing a DfE-funded course for new teachers targeted at A-level, and now informs the OU's development of courses for teachers on Open Learn and within the undergraduate degree. The Mathematics Education team work closely with schools and colleges via the Maths Hubs, notably our local Enigma Hub.  

I prioritise engaging with the mathematics education research community, and encouraging teachers to read research and relate it to their practice. Current thoughts are shared on Twitter as @itchymaths and through the mathematics education blog http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/MathEd/. I have taken part in the Mathematips podcast discussing what Berstein's theory of knowledge can offer maths teachers.

External collaborations

I am a member of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, and honorary senior lecturer at UCL Institute of Education. 

Aiming to have an impact on education policy, I chair the Secondary (11-16) contact group for the Royal Society's Advisory Committee on Mathematis Education. I am on the Expert Advisory Group of the EEF's Centres for Excellence in Mathematics.

I am an editor of the journal Teaching Mathematics and its Applications.

Publications

Discourses of time and maturity structuring participation in mathematics and further mathematics (2020)
Smith, Cathy
British Journal of Sociology of Education, 41(2) (pp. 160-177)


[Editorial] Special issue: Preparing to teach mathematics pathways beyond 16 (2018-06-04)
Smith, Cathy; Golding, Jennie and Bretscher, Nicola
Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA, 37(2) (pp. 53-54)


Designing teacher education for pre-university mathematics: articulating and operationalising pedagogic messages (2018-06-04)
Smith, Cathy and Bretscher, Nicola
Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA, 37(2) (pp. 84-97)


Teaching A-level in Early Career: Induction, Support and Professional Learning (2018-06-04)
Smith, Cathy and Golding, Jennie
Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA, 37(2) (pp. 55-68)


Learning to teach contextualized problem-solving in a non-calculus mathematics pathway (2018-06)
Golding, Jennie; Smith, Cathy and Blayock, Mick
Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA, 37(2) (pp. 69-83)


[Book Review] Disaffection with school mathematics (2017)
Smith, Cathy
Research in Mathematics Education, 19(1) (pp. 97-101)


Curricular orientations to real-world contexts in mathematics (2016)
Smith, Cathy and Morgan, Candia
The Curriculum Journal, 27(1) (pp. 24-45)


Choosing more mathematics: happiness through work? (2010)
Smith, Cathy
Research in Mathematics Education, 12(2) (pp. 99-115)


Choosing the Future: A-level Mathematics (2020-01-01)
Smith, Cathy
In: Ineson, Gwen and Povey, Hilary eds. Debates in Mathematics Education (2nd edition). Debates in Subject Teaching ((In press))
ISBN : 9780367074982 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon


Developing subject knowledge (2019-05-09)
Webb, Charlotte and Smith, Cathy
In: Lee, Clare and Ward-Penny, Robert eds. A practical guide to teaching mathematics in the secondary school (2nd ed) (pp. 104-115)
ISBN : 9781138481206 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon


Developing Subject Knowledge (2019-04-25)
Webb, Charlotte and Smith, Cathy
In: Lee, Clare and Ward-Penny, Robert eds. A Practical Guide to Teaching Mathematics in the Secondary School (2nd edition). Routledge Teaching Guides (pp. 104-115)
ISBN : 9781351060714 | Publisher : Routledge


Choosing the Future: A-level Mathematics (2014)
Smith, Cathy
In: Leslie, Dawn and Mendick, Heather eds. Debates in Mathematics Education. Debates in Subject Teaching Series (pp. 196-206)
ISBN : 978-0-415-62383-4 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London


‘Sometimes I Think Wow I’m Doing Further Mathematics…’: Balancing Tensions Between Aspiring and Belonging (2011)
Smith, Cathy
In: Atweh, Bill; Graven, Mellony; Secada, Walter and Valero, Paola eds. Mapping Equity and Quality in Mathematics Education (pp. 285-298)
ISBN : 978-90-481-9802-3 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Dordrecht


Senses of time and maturity structuring participation in advanced mathematics (2020-02-21)
Smith, Cathy
In : Seventh ERME Topic Conference on Language in the Mathematics Classroom (18-21 Feb 2020, Montpellier, France) (pp. 171-178)


Schools’ Strategies for Promoting Girls’ Participation in Mathematics (2018-07)
Smith, Cathy and Golding, Jennie
In : 42nd Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (3-8 Jul 2018, Umeå, Sweden.) (pp. 211-218)


Mathematics Education 5- 18 In The Four Nations: A comparative analysis (2020-07-06)
Smith, Cathy and Forsythe, Susan
The Joint Mathematical Council of the United Kingdom, London.


Gender and Participation in Mathematics and Further Mathematics: Final Report for the Further Mathematics Support Programme (2017-03)
Smith, Cathy and Golding, Jennie
Further Mathematics Support Programme


Teaching A-level Mathematics in Early Career: Report for the Further Mathematics Support Programme. (2017-01)
Smith, Cathy and Golding, Jennie
Further Mathematics Support Programme


Beginner mathematics teachers learning to teach and assess advanced problem solving (2016-11)
Golding, Jennie and Smith, Cathy
Further Mathematics Support Programme, London.


Wider school effects of engaging with the Further Mathematics Support Programme to introduce Further Mathematics: Final Report (2016-03)
Golding, Jennie and Smith, Cathy
Further Mathematics Support Programme


The participation of girls in further mathematics (2016-02)
Baldwin, Claire; de Pomerai, Sue and Smith, Cathy
The Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications (IMA), Mathematics Today.


Gender and Participation in Mathematics and Further Mathematics: Interim Report for the Further Mathematics Support Programme (2015-01)
Smith, Cathy and Golding, Jennie
Further Mathematics Support Programme


Gender and participation in mathematics and further mathematics A-levels: a literature review for the Further Mathematics Support Programme (2014)
Smith, Cathy
Further Mathematics Support Programme