22 June 2018: Seminar by Dr Ian Jones, Loughborough University, UK

Speaker: Dr Ian Jones, Loughborough University, UK

Title: Conceptual Understanding and How to Assess It

Abstract: It is commonly asserted that mathematical achievement is easily assessed because the nature of the subject lends itself to short, objective items. This belief risks perpetuating a shallow and superficial view of mathematics education, analogous to basing language assessment solely on objective spelling and grammar tests. True mathematical understanding involves developing conceptual knowledge of abstract ideas, and engaging in sustained reasoning in order to prove and apply those ideas. Deep understanding of abstract concepts is not readily assessed using traditional methods such as tests comprising short, objective items. I will present findings from a programme of research investigating how comparative judgement can help improve the assessment of mathematical achievement. The approach has been applied in a variety of contexts from school children's understanding of fractions through to undergraduates' understanding of calculus. Discussion will focus on the validity, reliability and efficiency of the comparative judgement method across these different contexts.