Mathematics Education for Indigenous Students in Preparation for Engineering and Information Technologies

  • Collin PhillipsEmail author
  • Fu Ken Ly
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Mathematics & Statistics book series (PROMS, volume 313)


The development, implementation and assessment of a Mathematics Workshop for Indigenous school students is described and analysed. The Workshop formed part of an intensive week-long programme conducted by the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies at the University of Sydney in September 2017 called the STEM Spring Workshop. The curriculum and teaching schedule development incorporated an assessment of the students’ backgrounds and a presurvey, and includes an extended description of the development of two extracurricular topics on Cryptography and the Rubik’s cube. The interactions during the classes are then described, with an emphasis on the ongoing evolution and adaptation of the teaching modes in response to real-time student feedback. The assessments of the classes were highly positive with many students indicating a desire for more time on the mathematical activities. The principle of cultural plasticity (being receptive to, learning from and adapting to the cultural perspectives of others) as used in the Mathematics Workshop is described.


Mathematics education Indigenous education STEM education Cultural plasticity 



We would like to graciously acknowledge the contributions of Erwin Lobo, Alexander Majchrowski and Collin Zheng for their conscientious and considerable contributions toward the development of the Mathematics Workshop programme and the teaching and learning during the Workshop. We would like to thank Jackie Nicholas for the valuable suggestions. We would like to acknowledge the stewardship and kind cooperation of Alberta-Mari Nortje and Keiran Passmore, two of the founders of the STEM Spring Workshop. We would like to acknowledge the suggestions of an anonymous referee and the insight and input of the editors. Finally, thanks to the inevitable wordsmith behind the scenes, Laurence Cantrill.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mathematics Learning Centre, Education PortfolioUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Science, School of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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