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Dr Sue Forsythe

Profile summary

Professional biography

I gained my Batchelors degree in Mathematics with Education from Southampton university, my Masters in Computer Enhanced Mathematics Education from Napier University and my PhD in Education from the University of Leicester. 

I have worked in Mathematics Education all my career, first as a secondary school teacher of Mathematics and later as an Initial Teacher Educator of Secondary Mathematics. I joined the Open University as Senior Lecturer in Mathematics Education in September 2017.

My doctoral thesis, completed in 2014, allowed me to explore whether a task in a Dynamic Geometry Environment could be the catalyst for the development of the concept of inclusion in 2D geometry in 13 year old students. The research allowed me to make a fine grained study of how children think about shapes and develop understanding of important mathematical concepts such as inclusivity. One important finding from the study was the affordances of the dynamic figure at the heart of the task which includes the facilitating of a narrative through which students can construct meanings. This makes reasoning in a dynamic environment qualitatively different from reasoning in a static (pencil and paper) environment. 


Research interests

Other research has included an Action Research project to explore the best ways to support Mathematics and Science secondary PGCE students with writing at Masters level, in collaboration with Maarten Tas. We published and presented our research which showed the positive outcomes of our interventions which are still used on the course to this day.

​I am currently interested in how our team of tutors on the Mathematics Education modules work as a Community of Practice.

Teaching interests

I am a member of the Mathematics Education team involved in supporting four 30 credit units at level 3 as part of the Mathematics and its Learning degree. The team is currently writing updated modules due to be lauunched in 2021 and 2022.

I am main supervisor to two doctoral students and co supervisor to two doctoral students.

As part of a European Union funded Erasmus plus project I worked collaboratively with a team of colleagues in the School of Education at Leicester, with universities in two other EU countries and Faculties of Education in Egypt to develop teacher education in Egypt. This project was a follow-up to another EU funded Tempus project working with Faculties of Education in Egypt, Palestine and Lebanon where the role of the Leicester team was to evaluate project outcomes. This experience has broadened my outlook, since I work with people whose research interests lie in different areas, e.g. social justice, teacher development, etc and with colleagues from different countries.


Working with the Dynamic Perpendicular Quadrilateral in a Whole Class Setting: Supporting Students in Developing a Hierarchical Classification of the Kites (2018-12-23)
Forsythe, Susan K.
International Journal for Mathematics Teaching and Learning, 19(2) (pp. 269-286)

Factors for and against choosing mathematics study post-16 (2018-07-12)
Lewis, Gareth and Forsythe, Sue
Mathematics Teaching, 262 (pp. 10-13)

How do some teachers of primary mathematics view the impact of the Singapore textbook schemes? (2017-05)
Forsythe, Susan
Primary Mathematics, 21(1) (pp. 9-14)

Dragging maintaining symmetry: can it generate the concept of inclusivity as well as a family of shapes? (2015)
Forsythe, Susan K.
Research in Mathematics Education, 17(3) (pp. 198-219)

How orientation and symmetry influence the way we perceive shapes (2013)
Forsythe, Susan
Primary Mathematics, 17(2) (pp. 9-12)

Which qualities did aspiring teachers value in their ‘best’ mathematics teachers? (2012)
Lewis, Gareth and Forsythe, Sue
Teacher Education Network Journal, 4(3) (pp. 46-58)

Developing perceptions of symmetry in a Dynamic Geometry environment (2011-07)
Forsythe, Susan K.
Research in Mathematics Education, 13(2) (pp. 225-226)

A collaborative action research project to support Mathematics and Science PGCE students with Masters level writing (2010-12)
Forsythe, Sue and Tas, Maarten
Teacher Education Advancement Journal, 1(2)

Strategies to Support PGCE Mathematics and Science Students Preparing for Assignments at Masters Level (2010-05)
Tas, Maarten and Forsythe, Sue
Teacher Education Advancement Network Journal, 1(1)

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.