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ESRC DTP Interdisciplinary PhD Studentship (Fixed Term)


Designing Interactive Virtual Classroom Environments to Support Teacher Learning of Proof-related Instruction in Mathematics

The University of Cambridge ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) is pleased to offer an interdisciplinary studentship available for admission in 2019. The studentship will be a 1-year masters (MPhil in Education) followed by 3-year doctoral programme and will be co-supervised by Dr Andreas Stylianides (Faculty of Education, http://www.educ.cam.ac.uk) and Dr Mateja Jamnik (Department of Computer Science & Technology, https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk).

The DTP studentship will cover fees and provide £14,777 p.a. in living costs (current rates). DTP students also receive a personal allowance for additional training costs, and can apply for further funding to pursue fieldwork, academic exchange, and collaboration with non-academic partner organisations.

The successful applicant will work on an interdisciplinary project bridging computer science, artificial intelligence, and education. They will have relevant background or experience in the field of computer science (or mathematics or artificial intelligence) and preferably also education (mathematics education, technology education, etc.), as well as demonstrable interest in working on this project.

Project description

Despite the importance of proof in all students' learning of mathematics and at all school levels, many teachers, including specialist secondary mathematics teachers, find it difficult to implement effective proof-related instruction. It is arguably more efficient for trainee teachers to learn how to perform proof-related instruction by actually doing it in a real classroom. However, this is not possible: many trainee teachers have their field-based experiences in classrooms where proof is an alien concept and thus have no opportunities to observe let alone actively engage with proof-related instruction.

Headway in addressing this educational problem can be made with the use of computer science and artificial intelligence know-how to design interactive Virtual Classroom Environments (VCEs) that will enable trainee secondary mathematics teachers to actively engage with proof-related instruction, in a way similar to how pilots virtually prepare for real situations (even rare ones) without needing a real aircraft.

The project will address four research questions: 1. What aspects of mathematics education are relevant to the design of the VCEs, and how? 2. What CS and AI technology is relevant to the design of the VCEs, and how? 3. How do trainee secondary mathematics teachers interact with the VCEs, and what are they learning about proof-related instruction from these interactions? 4. Is this learning better than that resulting from typical training in teacher education programmes nowadays, and how?

Further information and application procedure

DTP studentships are currently open to UK and EU citizens on a full-time or part-time basis. Full studentships (i.e. including living costs) are open only to those meeting certain residency requirements. More information about DTP studentships, including eligibility requirements, can be found at https://www.esrcdtp.group.cam.ac.uk/prospectivestudents.

Informal enquiries can be addressed to Dr Stylianides (as899@cam.ac.uk) or Dr Jamnik (mateja.jamnik@cl.cam.ac.uk).

Everyone interested in this studentship will need to apply to the University via the usual route, specifying they wish to apply for the PhD in Education (Graduate Application Form on the Graduate Admissions page: https://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/how-do-i-apply). Please ensure you indicate that you wish to be considered for funding in the Funding section of the online application form.

Please upload your written statement with your application and label your statement, "VCEs and Proof-related Instruction." The statement should be no longer than 1,500 words (excluding references) and outline (1) your ideas about how you may address the research questions in the project description and (2) why you think you are well positioned to conduct this research.

Please quote reference JR17436 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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