Star Educator

During the October holidays, Mrs Kate Hartup, Middle School Teacher, presented a paper at the 2019 Educator Scholar Conference as part of her PHD research at the University of Notre Dame. The theme for the Conference was “Assessment in Times of Change”.

Of the five awards available to presenters at the Conference, Mrs Hartup and her colleague were  awarded two.

  • Project demonstrating student learning through the use of Technology Enhanced Learning
  • Presentation that successfully communicates a SoTL (Teaching and Learning) project in an engaging and compelling manner

Congratulations Mrs Hartup and our best wishes as you continue with your PHD.

An abstract of the paper is outlined below.

An online approach to track and evaluate teacher education students’ numeracy capability

Kate Hartup1, Thuan Thai1, Adelle Colbourn2, and Amanda Yeung1,3

1School of Education, University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney; 2Mathematics Education Support Hub, Western Sydney University, 3Office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education), University of NSW.


It is now a national requirement that teachers teach numeracy skills across all subject areas at all year levels (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], n.d.). Research has also reported that teachers’ mathematical knowledge and ability affects their students’ performance in the classroom (Shirvani, 2015; Tchoshanov et al., 2017). Therefore, it is important for initial teacher education providers to have knowledge of their teacher education students’ (TES) numeracy skills and have mechanisms to support their development. This study reports on the use of an online diagnostic test developed as a form of assessment for learning, to evaluate and track TES’ numeracy capability and development. Data was collected using the “Test” feature through the Blackboard Learning Management System at two Australian universities. Purposive sampling was used for this study to identify students who showed considerable improvement (≥10% improvement) through the repeated use of the test (≥3 attempts) in order to evaluate areas of growth and areas that require further development. From a pool of 312 students, 35 students satisfied these criteria and were selected for this study. Our findings show that repeated attempts in the test was associated with performance improvement across all three mathematical content strands (Number and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry, and Statistics and Probability) as well as non-calculator questions. However, the amount of improvement itself did not depend on the number of attempts. Statistically significant improvement was observed for questions relating to decimals (p<0.001), combinations (p<0.001), probability (p<0.01), and fractions (p<0.05). Interestingly, almost 80% of students achieved their personal best in the penultimate or final attempt, which suggests that the test is a useful tool for TES to self-assess their numeracy capability. Findings from this study shows that this is an informative and sustainable approach to support the development of students’ numeracy skills.