09 September 2020

'I enjoyed every day at UEA'

Six graduates share their experiences studying the MA Mathematics Education degree in the UEA School of Education and Lifelong Learning

Some of my best days were spent in the classrooms.

Melissa Gordon (Guyana)

I have always wanted to be more than an ordinary classroom teacher. I wanted to become a subject specialist. As a subject specialist, I would be able to impart knowledge and skills to Mathematics teachers in various schools, and by extension, more students would benefit from my knowledge and experience.

I had a wonderful experience studying at UEA. Initially, I wanted to study a Master’s degree in Mathematics, but after reading the overview and course structure I realised that a Master’s degree in Mathematics Education would enable me to develop a compressive understanding about the teaching and learning of mathematics.

My lectures were very resourceful and were always accessible. Some of my best days were spent in the classrooms. And by being in a classroom with students from other countries I gained first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to teach Mathematics to students from different cultures.

Studying Mathematics Education has enhanced my career. I have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience about Mathematics and how it can be taught and learnt and I am better equipped to perform my job. I would advise current students to make full use of every available opportunity that can enhance their learning. Drop-in sessions and other seminars can provide a wealth of experience. Students should use the feedback and constructive criticisms given by their classmates and lecturers as building blocks if they want to be successful.

Professionally, this degree represents my highest level of education to date. This is a significant achievement given the fact that I am one of a few teachers in Guyana with a Master’s degree.

After completing my Master’s degree, I returned to Guyana and I continue to teach Mathematics and my students and colleagues are benefiting tremendously from the knowledge and experience I gained while studying at UEA. I am better able to understand some of the challenges students face with learning Mathematics. I am now a part-time undergraduate lecturer at the University of Guyana and I plan to study a PhD in Mathematics Education.

Sabahat Malik (Pakistan)

Before coming to UEA, I had been working as a Mathematics Lecturer for about 15 years in higher education. I wanted to study key theories and key studies in Mathematics as part of this MA in Mathematics Education degree to enable me to consider research positions in academia.

I had an opportunity to discuss the programme with the course director over Skype because I had reservations about my suitability to study this degree. She assured me that the programme is developed in a systematic and methodical manner, so even beginners would be able to assimilate into it. Moreover, her confidence in me as a teacher of Maths helped me immensely to choose this degree programme. Consequently, I had the opportunity to study under tremendous support and guidance of the course team, and learned about the key theories in mathematics education and social research methods. I was also able to apply for the UEA Excellence in Education scholarship.

I completed the MA in Mathematics Education, and it has enabled me to understand many aspects of designing a research project, and to undergo research for the first time in my career. I learned the intricacies of data analysis and applying mathematics education theories.

Norwich is vibrant and provides solid recreation facilities. It is easy to get around the city, and the centre is a comfortable walk from UEA campus. I particularly miss my riverside walks and Norwich Cathedral. I would absolutely recommend studying at UEA to anyone as it provides a good quality learning experience and student facilities. I was particularly impressed by the help provided by tutors, who have helped me to grasp the ideas given in my summative assignments and explore various ways to improve my writing skills.

I have started working as a Maths Tutor at the University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China in March 2019. I teach the core modules of the preliminary year program and I am a course tutor for Foundation Calculus module for the International Foundation Pathway.

I have been offered a PhD fellowship in Mathematics Education by the Department of Mathematics at a university in New Zealand and I will be investigating flipped classroom techniques in undergraduate mathematics education.

Majed Alharthi (Saudi Arabia)

The Master of Mathematics Education at UEA has helped me develop the understanding, skills and confidence to lead mathematics and numeracy learning. I have explored multidisciplinary perspectives from across the world and discovered how to embed mathematics education across the curriculum. That is why I chose UEA to study this specialization.

Some parts of studying were tougher than others. I may have experienced moments of self-doubt, but when I graduated I got to look back on those tough times and say to myself, ‘I did it.’ That is certainly something to be proud of.

This Master’s in Mathematics Education at UEA will help you develop the understanding, skills and confidence to lead mathematics and numeracy learning.

Norwich is a vibrant yet safe city in the heart of picturesque Norfolk in the region of East Anglia. Its thriving medieval centre, rich in beautiful historic architecture, is a perfect blend between the past and the present. I miss Norwich, and I hope be there soon.

Mana Alamry (Saudi Arabia)

I came across UEA by searching on the Internet for the best universities in Mathematics Education. I also asked some of my students’ friends who had studied at UEA and they praised the University and how it welcomes overseas students. I applied because I wanted to contribute to the development of educational work in my country, Saudi Arabia.

The best day was the first day, when the course director said, “Rest assured, we will help you to become a researcher.”

The degree has had a major impact in my educational practice. Some of the skills I learned at the UEA have helped me a lot, especially the skills of scientific research and working in groups.

Norwich is a safe city, and I felt comfortable there with my wife and children. The castle was one of the most beautiful archaeological and heritage sites in the city, and an unforgettable moment was attending the Norfolk Arts Festival and Norwich Festival.

I advise current students to take advantage of every moment at this university. The university has a great library and connects with many international libraries. I also advise students to try to communicate with schools in the city. My children were with me, so it was easy to communicate with these schools, visit them and note some of their work, but some students may find that difficult.

Wen Shi (China)

It was definitely the best decision I have made to study at UEA. All the staff at UEA are supportive, and they helped me in many different ways. As an overseas student, support staff at UEA ensured that I was well during the time when I was there so that I could focus on my course. I enjoyed every day when I was at UEA and I still miss those days when I was a student at UEA.

I developed my communication skills and my understanding of Mathematics Education at UEA. I was supported by great teachers at UEA, and that made me more confident when I started my career. The knowledge that I learnt at UEA definitely helps me understanding learning and teaching Mathematics much better, and it makes it easier for me to understand how to teach students Maths better.

I worked as a Maths teacher at Ark Boulton in Birmingham in the first year after graduating from UEA. In order to complete teacher training, I then worked at Holland Park School from January 2017. I started a new role leading sixth form Mathematics at Holland Park after I got my Qualified Teacher Status from September 2018.

I enjoy teaching and spending time with students. I was planning to work as a maths teacher in a secondary school when I started at UEA, but I was not sure whether I would stay in the UK or return to China. I will continue to work at Holland Park, and it would be lovely if I could have the opportunity to go back to UEA to do my PhD degree in the future.

Angeliki Stylianidou (Greece)

I found out about UEA when I was an undergraduate student in the School of Primary Education in Thessaloniki, Greece. Towards the last year of my undergraduate studies, I was thinking to do a Master’s in Mathematics Education, as Mathematics has been my favourite subject. One of my lecturers in Mathematics Education recommended UEA to me.

I completed my Master’s in Mathematics Education at UEA in September 2014 and then published findings from my MA dissertation in the proceedings of the Greek Association for Research in Mathematics Education (GARME) conference.

For approximately 2 months, I worked as a volunteer teaching assistant in a primary school in Norwich and also as a supply teacher in primary schools in Norfolk and Suffolk in order to gain experience teaching in British primary schools. My dissertation supervisor and UEA’s CareerCentral helped me in finding these opportunities.

As soon as I felt more familiar with the British educational system, I applied for a teaching assistant post in a primary school in Thetford. I stayed in this position for approximately two years. I worked with pupils of all abilities, of various ethnic backgrounds and of various Year Groups, in and outside the classroom, offering one-to-one support and also supporting groups of pupils. While I supported pupils in all the primary school subjects, my main subject was Mathematics.

I very much enjoyed my teaching. Interacting with teachers and pupils, as well as learning and finding ways to support pupils relatively to their needs, filled me with great satisfaction. As the time was passing, I started to think of ‘broadening’ my help to pupils. I began to reflect on ways through which I could offer help not just to specific pupils in a specific classroom but to pupils more broadly. The Challenging Ableist Perspectives on the Teaching of Mathematics (CAPTeaM) workshop that I attended at UEA in 2015 made me see a route through which my desire could be fulfilled. Experiencing a new area in Mathematics Education research, I got excited with the CAPTeaM project’s non-ableist and inclusive character orientated to disabled learners. Since then, I thought that a PhD in the research area of inclusion of disabled learners should be my next step towards broadening my knowledge and my support to pupils.

Funded through a UEA Social Sciences Faculty Doctoral Studentship, I started my PhD at UEA in October 2016 and I am now in my final year of my studies. As part of my professional development during my doctoral studies, I am also appointed as a part-time Research Associate on CAPTeaM. My PhD journey has been tough but very exciting and multiply rewarding.

Working on my PhD involves a range of key tasks and skills on a day-to-day basis. It involves critical reading and thinking, analytical skills, writing and presentation skills, innovation and time management.