The innovative program increasing girls’ participation in mathematics and numeracy programs

16 September 2019

St Rita’s College in Clayfield, Brisbane, is leading the way with its Mathematics program, delivering a program designed to greatly improve outcomes in this increasingly important education discipline.

The Mathematics Faculty at the renowned Secondary school for girls has been accepted as a Queensland Catholic Education Commission Research Partner School, working with the Australian Government’s Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC). Administered by The University of Queensland, the SLRC has bolstered the College’s program with a $30,000 grant to support project planning and implementation. The opportunity for St Rita’s provides first-hand access to research and insights into how learning occurs and impacts from both teacher and student perspectives. The College’s research specifically aims to enhance the understanding and confident application of fundamental mathematics across all Year levels, leading to improved student outcomes.

The College’s highly successful Mathematics and Numeracy program was initially developed in conjunction with the Queensland University of Technology with the overarching aim to support the implementation of strategies to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics to students underperforming in the subject. The underachievement of girls has been found to be linked to traditional instruction in mathematics because they have a strong tendency to be connected thinkers who work to seek out the ‘why’ of mathematics concepts rather than the ‘what’ (Jo Boaler, 2015). The St Rita’s Mathematics Faculty acknowledges that traditional mathematics classrooms are not designed to answer these types of questions. 
Several benefits for teachers and students were identified when a multi-sensory and multi-representational approach was used in mathematics classrooms and students could explore the realities of mathematics in everyday life. This included using visual, auditory, tactile and kinaesthetic learning aids. Students who are not confident and fear mathematics warrant the need for connecting the importance of content to everyday life 
to stimulate motivation. 

St Rita’s College is a dynamic Catholic community with a vision to nurture and education young articulate women of integrity who are increasingly independent, discerning, creative and resilient. Enrolments for Year 7 2023 are open now. You can find out more about the College and its programs, and register for the next College tour at www.stritas.qld.edu.au. Tours of the College are held three times per year and Open Day is held in July.

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