Mathematics at the Margins

  • Elizabeth WarrenEmail author
  • Jodie Miller
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Education book series (BRIEFSEDUCAT)


Schools classified as marginalized exhibit a complex cluster of factors, including parents who have low socio-economic status and low levels of education, and contexts where social networks are weak, there are few role models and in general there is a lack of opportunity. In the Australian context these schools tend to be in isolated geographical locations, and have large cohorts of students who either have English as their second language or are Indigenous. The problems that these schools face are universal. Teachers often struggle to work in these contexts, and students are at the greatest risk of not succeeding at school let alone mathematics. The focus of this book is to share the findings from a four-year longitudinal study Representations, Oral Language and Engagement in Mathematics (RoleM) that was situated in the most marginalized schools in Queensland, Australia. The participating students were in their first four years of school. The overall aim of the book is to share the journey of these teachers and students, and to draw out the dimensions that assisted these students to become successful learners of mathematics.


Teaching Mathematic Professional Learning Mathematics Curriculum Indigenous Student Mathematics Content Knowledge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Allard, A., & Santoro, N. (2004). Making sense of difference? Teaching identities in postmodern contexts. In P. Jeffery (Ed.), Doing The Public Good: Positioning Educational Research (AARE 2004 International Education Research Conference Proceedings) (pp. 1–20). Coldstream, VIC: Australian Association for Research in Education.Google Scholar
  2. Arcavi, A. (2003). The role of visual representations in the learning of mathematics. Educational studies in mathematics, 52(3), 215–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). Australian social trends: Education across Australia (Cat. no. 4102.0). Canberra, Australia: ABS.Google Scholar
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). (2011). The heath and welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Canberra, ACT: Author.Google Scholar
  5. Ball, D. L. (1993). With an Eye on the mathematical horizon: Dilemmas of teaching elementary school mathematics. The Elementary School Journal, 93(4), 373–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ball, D. L., Hill, H. C., & Bass, H. (2005). Knowing Mathematics for Teaching. American Educator, 29(1), 14–17, 20-22, 43–46. doi: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2006.02.001 Google Scholar
  7. Barnhardt, R. (2008). Creating a place for indigenous knowledge in education: The Alaskan native knowledge network. In D. A. Gruenewald & G. A. Smith (Eds.), Place-based education in the global age: Local diversity (pp. 113–134). New York, NY: Taylor Francis.Google Scholar
  8. Berman, G., & Paradies, Y. (2010). Racism, disadvantage and multiculturalism: Towards effective anti-racist praxis. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 33(2), 214–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boaler, J. (1993). Encouraging the transfer of ‘school’ mathematics to the ‘real world’ through the integration of process and content, context and culture. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 25(4), 341–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Boaler, J. (1997). Equity, Empowerment and Different Ways of Knowing. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 9(3), 325–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boaler, J., & Staples, M. (2008). Creating mathematical futures through an equitable teaching approach: The case of Railside School. The Teachers College Record, 110(3), 608–645.Google Scholar
  12. Borman, G. D., & Dowling, N. M. (2008). Teacher attrition and retention: A meta-analytic and narrative review of the research. Review of Educational Research, 78(3), 367–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Borman, G. D., & Kimball, S. M. (2013). Teacher quality and educational equality: Do teachers with higher standards- ratings close student achievement gaps? The Elementary School Journal, 106(1), 3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Catsambis, S., & Beveridge, A. A. (2001). Does neighborhood matter? Family, neighborhood, and school influences on eighth-grade mathematics achievement. Sociological Focus, 34(4), 435–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chavez, O. L. (2003). From the textbook to the enacted curriculum. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO.Google Scholar
  16. Clarkson, P. C. (1992). Language and mathematics: A comparison of bilingual and monolingual students of mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 23(4), 417–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Council of Australian Governments (COAG). (2008). National numeracy review report. Canberra, ACT. Retrieved from
  18. Denton, K., & West, J. (2002). Children’s reading and mathematics achievement in kindergarten and first grade. Washington: National Center for Education Statistics, US Department of Education.Google Scholar
  19. Department of Education, Employment, and Early Childhood Development. (2009). Numeracy in practice: Teaching, learning and using mathematics. Melbourne, Vic: Education Policy and Research Division.Google Scholar
  20. Duru-Bellat, M. (2009). Access to education: what are the inequalities in France today?. Report: Background paper for EFA Global Monitoring. 2010.Google Scholar
  21. Edwards, B. (2005). Does it take a village? An investigation of neighbourhood effects on Australian children’s development. Family Matters, 72, 36–43.Google Scholar
  22. Ernest, P. (2007). Why social justice. Philosophy of Mathematics Education Journal21. Retrieved from
  23. Field, S., Kuczera, M., & Pont, B. (2007). No More Failures: Ten Steps to Equity in Education. Paris: OECD.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fullarton, S., Walker, M., Ainley, J., & Hillman, K. (2003). Patterns of participation in Year 12. Melbourne, Vic.: ACER.Google Scholar
  25. Goldenberg, C. (2008). Teaching English language learners. American Educator, 8 – 44. Retrieved from
  26. Goldin, G., & Shteingold, N. (2001). Systems of representation and the development of mathematical concepts. In A. A. Cuoco & F. R. Curcio (Eds.), The role of representation in school mathematics (pp. 1–23). Boston, MA: NCTM.Google Scholar
  27. Gutstein, E. (2003). Teaching and learning mathematics for social justice in an urban, Latino school. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 37-73.Google Scholar
  28. Gutiérrez, R. (2002). Enabling the practice of mathematics teachers in context: Toward a new equity research agenda. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 4(2–3), 145–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gutiérrez, R., & Dixon-Román, E. (2011). Beyond gap gazing: How can thinking about education comprehensively help us (re)envision mathematics education? In B. Atweh, M. Graven, W. Secada, & P. Valero (Eds.), Mapping equity and quality in mathematics education (pp. 21–34). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  30. Harris, S. (1994). ‘Soft’ and ‘hard’ domain theory for bicultural education in Indigenous groups. Peabody Journal of Education, 69(2), 140–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hattie, J. A. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of 800+ meta-analyses on achievement. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Heslop, J. (2011). Living and teaching in Aboriginal communities. In Q. Beresford & G. Partington (Eds.), Reform and resistance in Aboriginal education (pp. 208–238). Perth: University of Western Australia Press.Google Scholar
  33. Herrington, J., Reeves, T., & Oliver, R. (2008). Authentic Learning Environments. In M. Spector, M. Merril, J. Elen, & M. Bishop (Eds.), Handbook of Research in Educational Communications and Technology (pp. 425–428). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  34. Hewitson, R. (2007). Climbing the Educational Mountain: A Metaphor for Real Culture Change for Indigenous Students in Remote Schools. Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 36, 6–20.Google Scholar
  35. Hewson, G. (2005). The meaning of mathematics. In J. Kilpatrick, C. Hoyles, & O. Scovsmose (Eds.), Meaning of mathematics education (pp. 17–38). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jones, R. (2004). Geolocation questions and coding index. A technical report submitted to the MCEETYA Performance Measurement and Reporting Taskforce. Retrieved from
  37. Jorgensen, R. (2010). Structured failing: Reshaping a mathematical future for marginalized learners. L. Sparrow, B. Kissane, & C. Hurst (Eds.), Shaping the future of mathematics education: Proceedings of the 33rd annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp. 26-35). Fremantle, WA: MERGA.Google Scholar
  38. Jorgensen, R., & Lowrie, T. (2013). Both ways strong: Using digital games to engage Aboriginal learners. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(2), 130–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jorgensen, R., Grootenboer, P., Niesche, R., & Lerman, S. (2010). Challenges for teacher education: The mismatch between beliefs and practice in remote Indigenous contexts. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 38(2), 161–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Jurdak, M. (2009). Toward Equity in Quality in Mathematics Education. Boston, MA: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kent, A. M. (2004). Improving teacher quality through professional development. Education, 124(3), 427–435.Google Scholar
  42. Ladson-Billings, G. (2000). Culturally relevant pedagogy in African-centred schools: Possibilities for progressive educational reform. In D. Pollard & C. Ajirotutu (Eds.), African-centered schooling theory and practice (pp. 188–198). London: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  43. Lamb, S., & McKenzie, P. (2001). Patterns of Success and Failure in the Transition from School to Work in Australia, LSAY Report 18. Melbourne, Vic.: ACER.Google Scholar
  44. Lerkkanen, M. K., Rasku-Puttonen, H., Aunola, K., & Nurmi, J. E. (2005). Mathematical performance predicts progress in reading comprehension among 7-year olds. European journal of psychology of education, 20(2), 121–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lupton, R. (2004). Schools in Disadvantaged Areas : Recognising Context and Raising Quality. Retrieved from
  46. Lyons, T., Cooksey, R., Panizzon, D., Parnell, A., & Pegg, J. (2006). Science, ICT and mathematics education in rural and regional Australia: The SiMERR national survey. Canberra: Department of Education, Science and Training.Google Scholar
  47. Massey, D. S., & Denton, N. A. (1993). American apartheid: Segregation and the making of the underclass. Boston: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Matang, R., & Owens, K. (2004). Rich transitions from Indigenous counting systems to English arithmetic strategies: Implications for mathematics education in Papua New Guinea. In F. Favilli (Ed.), Proceedings of the 10th International Congress on Mathematical Education, Copenhagen, Denmark, Discussion Group 15, Ethnomathematics: Ethnomathematics and mathematics education (pp. 107–117). Pisa, Italy: ICME.Google Scholar
  49. Matthews, S., Howard, P., & Perry, B. (2003). Working together to enhance Australian Aboriginal students’ mathematics learning. In L. Bragg, C. Campbell, G. Herbert, & J. Mousley (Eds.), Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (MERGA 26) (pp. 9–28). Geelong, VIC: MERGA.Google Scholar
  50. Matthews, C., Watego, L., Cooper, T. J., & Baturo, A. R. (2005). Does mathematics education in Australia devalue Indigenous culture? Indigenous perspectives and non-Indigenous reflections. In P. Clarkson, A. Downtown, D. Gronn, M. Horne, A. McDonough, R. Pierce, & A. Roche (Eds.), Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp. 513–520). Melbourne, Vic.: University of Melbourne.Google Scholar
  51. Ministerial Council for Education Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA). (2011). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010–2014. Retrieved from
  52. Mills, C., & Gale, T. (2010). Schooling in disadvantaged communities. Journal of Social Inclusion, 1(2), 181–182.Google Scholar
  53. Nakata, M. (2003). Some thoughts on literacy issues in Indigenous contexts. Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 31, 7–15.Google Scholar
  54. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). (2000). Principles and standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA: Author.Google Scholar
  55. Otte, M. (2005). Meaning and Mathematics. In Meaning in Mathematics Education (pp. 231-260). Springer US.Google Scholar
  56. Pape, S. J., & Tchoshanov, M. A. (2001). The role of representation (s) in developing mathematical understanding. Theory into practice, 40(2), 118–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pearson, N. (2009). Radical hope: Education and equality in Australia. Quarterly Essay, 35, 1–105.Google Scholar
  58. Porter, A. (1989). A Curriculum out of Balance The Case of Elementary School Mathematics. Educational Researcher, 18(5), 9–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Price-Robertson, R. (2011). CAFCA resource sheet Understanding the issues, overcoming the problem (pp. 1–10). Retrieved from
  60. Sampson, R. J. (2000). The neighborhood context of investing in children: facilitating mechanisms and undermining risks. In S. Danziger & J. Waldfogel (Eds.), Securing the future: investing in children from birth to college (pp. 205–227). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  61. Sarra, C. (2006). Don’t blame me. Retrieved from
  62. Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schoenfeld, A. H. (2002). Making mathematics work for all children: Issues of standards, testing, and equity. Educational researcher, 31(1), 13–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Smart, D., Sanson, A., Baxter, J., Edwards, B., & Hayes, A. (2008). Home-to-school transitions for financially disadvantaged children: Final report. Sydney: The Smith Family.Google Scholar
  65. Stevenson, H. W., & Newman, R. S. (1986). Long-term prediction of achievement and attitudes in mathematics and reading. Child development, 57, 646–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sun Lee, J., & Ginsburg, H. P. (2007). Preschool teachers’ beliefs about appropriate early literacy and mathematics education for low-and middle-socioeconomic status children. Early Education and Development, 18(1), 111–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Thorpe, K., Tayler, C., Bridgstock, R., Grieshaber, S., Skoien, P., Dany, S., & Petriwsky, A. (2004). Preparing for school: re-port on Queensland preparing for school trials. Retrieved 7th November 2008, from
  68. Trafton, P. R., Reys, B. J., & Wasman, D. G. (2001). Standards-based mathematics curriculum materials: A phrase in search of a definition. The Phi Delta Kappan, 83(3), 259–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. UNESCO. (2014). Chapter 3 Reaching the marginalized. Teaching and learning: Achieving quality for all (pp. 133–213). Retrieved from
  70. Vinson, T., Rawsthorne, M., & Cooper, B. (2007). Dropping off the edge : The distribution of disadvantage in Australia. Richmond, VIC: Jesuit Social Services.Google Scholar
  71. White, S., & Reid, J. (2008). Placing teachers? Sustaining rural schooling through place consciousness in Teacher Education. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 23(7), 1–11.Google Scholar
  72. Wilson, M., & Goldenberg, M. (1998). Some conceptions are difficult to change: one middle school mathematics teacher’s struggle. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 1, 269–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Zevenbergen, R. L. (2001). Literacy learning : the middle years. Literacy in the Middle Years, 9(2), 21–28.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Catholic UniversityVirginiaAustralia

Personalised recommendations