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PhD Student Visit

Last Thursday we were visited by PhD student, Beth Woollacott from Loughborough University, who is researching mathematics textbooks using students’ eye movements. Beth has been primarily researching how students read their textbooks, comparing different textbook extracts to see what aspects of the text make for better reading material. Ultimately, Beth will be distinguishing how to write textbook explanations for the best possible learning outcomes.

Beth’s research focuses on 16 -18 year olds, and she uses eye-tracking technology to track students’ eye movements as they read maths text. Some of our very own students have been lucky enough to use and learn about this eye-tracking technology, a rare honour, owing to the technologies lack of use outside of the industry setting. Using the psychology of reading, these eye movements give her insight into what aspects of text make some explanations easier for students to read than others. This gave some of our students the unique opportunity to revise for their upcoming exams whilst assisting Beth in her research. Beth has been co-funded in her research by Oxford University Press, and hopes that the result of her PhD will be to give publishers some insights into how textbooks can be used to facilitate proficient mathematical reading and learning. Therefore, the students who have contributed to Beth’s research could likewise be helping A Level maths students in the future, a cause we hope they can be proud to share in.

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