Mastery or Performance: Which Way Are You Oriented?

The sort of goals an individual has determines why they participate in an activity.  Consider two students. Alfred wants to achieve well, he studies hard and is set on getting an A in mathematics. However, he is petrified of failing to meet his goal. As a result he avoids situations that are particularly challenging, as he doesn’t want to risk appearing ‘stupid’ if he can’t complete the task. Most of the time Alfred achieves highly by academic standards. On the occasion that Alfred does not achieve an A, however, he blames himself for being ‘dumb’ and doubts he has the capacity to achieve highly in mathematics. Alfred likes to stick to the techniques he knows in order to learn: he prefers to spend his study time rote-learning and practising mathematics problems in order to increase his fluency.

Lucy enjoys the process of learning mathematics. She sees challenging situations and failure as an opportunity to learn. Lucy likes to reflect on her learning to consider what cognitive and metacognitive strategies she employed and how successful they were. She learns that some strategies aren’t always useful and didn’t result in optimal outcomes, but she considers this as part of the learning process. Lucy doesn’t always achieve As, but if she fails to meet her goals she considers the causes such as inadequate effort or a failure to understand something completely. Lucy bases academic satisfaction on the amount of effort she exerts: if she feels as though she has tried her best she is happy with her outcomes.

These two students clearly have quite different learning goals: Alfred displays a performance-goal approach to learning whilst Lucy possesses mastery goals. The table below summarises the difference between mastery (learning) and performance goals.


So what can teachers do to increase the tendency of students to be more mastery-oriented? Placing emphasis on understanding, rather than performance or outcomes achieved is the single most important factor in promoting a mastery approach to learning. When emphasis is placed on understanding over competition and ability, students tend to embrace, rather than avoid opportunities to improve their understanding. Braten and Stromso (2004) propose mastery goals promote student interest, as students’ emphasis is placed on engaging with their learning, rather than achieving a particular performance outcome. These students are more adaptive and have a greater tendency to view intelligence as malleable.

The research on learning orientations raises some significant concerns. The final year of study in Australia is clearly focused on achieving a single, ‘objective,’ measureable score. Students are highly focussed on achieving the best possible ATAR or OP possible, causing traditionally mastery-focused students to develop performance orientations. We are pushing our students to become performance oriented at the detriment of their learning experiences. When I curated EduTweetOz in January there was enormous debate concerning the need of providing students with grades: are they really necessary? What do they achieve? Is there not more valuable ways of providing students with feedback than reducing their learning efforts to a single mark?

I certainly don’t have the answers, but what I can control is this: the manner in which I interact with students on a day-to-day basis in the classroom. I can explicitly state that I want them to understand and that I’m more interested in their understanding than their academic grades. I can create environments conducive to taking safe academic risks where it’s ok to fail. I can help students understand that challenges present opportunities for learning and that it’s only through pushing ourselves we realise what we are capable of.

One of the greatest figures in the field of mindset and goal-orientations is Carol Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, has researched the field of learning and goal-orientations extensively. You can visit her website and complete a quiz to determine what type of mindset you have.

Read more:

  • Bråten, I. & Strømsø, H. I. (2004). Epistemological beliefs and implicit theories of intelligence as predictors of achievement goals. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 29, 371-388.
  • DeBacker & Crowson, (2006). Influences on cognitive engagement: Epistemological beliefs and need for closure
  • Dweck, C. S. (1986). “Motivational processes affecting learning”. American Psychologist 41 (10): 1040–1048. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.41.10.1040
  • Dweck, C.S. (2007). Self-theories: The mindset of a champion. In T. Morris, P. Terry & S. Gordon (Eds). Sport and exercise psychology: International perspectives. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.
  • Dweck, C.S., & Leggett, E.L. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality, Psychological Review, 95, 256-273.Beswick, K. (2006).  The Importance of Mathematics Teachers’ Beliefs. Australian Mathematics Teacher, 62(4), 17-21.
  • Jennison, M and Beswick, K, Student Attitude, Student Understanding and Mathematics Anxiety, Shaping the future of mathematics education : proceedings of the 33rd annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, 3 – 7 July 2010, Fremantle, Western Australia, pp. 280-288. ISBN 978-1-920846-25-1 (2010) [Refereed Conference Paper]
  • Pantziara, M. & Philippou, G. (2007). Students’ Motivation and Achievement and Teachers’ Practices in the Classroom.
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Observation: useful for teachers and researchers

An integral element of my data collection process is observation. It’s hard to play favourites between my three methods (the other two being surveys and interviews), but observation made me excited in a different way. Not only is observation an interesting and unique method of data collection, it is also a valuable tool for professional development for teachers.

As a data collection method observation allows the researcher witness the environment ‘in reality.’ It is a chance to really immerse oneself in the data to gain a more complete understanding of the research subject. Within my own study I wanted to witness exactly how the teacher was employing metacognitive and reflective strategies and how students were responding to these.

I haven’t had the opportunity to observe a full lesson since my teaching practicum several years ago. It is an interesting process to observe another teacher with several years of teaching experience behind me. Whilst I am not seeking to evaluate their teaching I am able to reflect on their pedagogical strategies and consider the effect of their teaching practices in the classroom. What questioning techniques did they employ and were they successful? Why? How did they employ certain strategies for behavioural or time cues? What was the impact? How does their teaching differ from mine and what can I learn from them?

Participating in observations as a data collection method has prompted me to consider how I have developed as a teacher in the four years since graduation. The observation that I am currently completing is of higher quality than that which occurred during my practicum whilst at university. I have developed my own identity as a teacher and hence can consider another teacher’s practice against my own in order to understand both my own practice and their practice better. When I completed observations as a pre-service teacher I lacked this depth of insight: I was just trying to determine how to survive in the classroom. 

In my first year of teaching I invited the principal, an assistant principal, and the head of mathematics into my classroom to observe lessons. It was intimidating to say the least but I considered the discomfort and anxiety of inviting another teacher into my space to be outweighed by the benefits of receiving feedback on my teaching. The process was overwhelming positive. I received positive (and at times unexpected) affirmation of effective teaching strategies I was using, increasing my confidence in the classroom. Additionally, I was provide with constructive feedback regarding areas to improve. I was a better teacher for the experience. I strongly encourage principals, HODs, and classroom teachers to develop professional environments conducive to participating in such a process.

Observing and reflecting on other teachers’ practices is a powerful (and relatively inexpensive) form of professional development and I believe there is much scope to dramatically increase the role of colleague-to-colleague observation in the teaching profession. This, however, involves accepting that we are not teaching in isolation. It means stepping outside the bubble of our own classroom an embracing constructive feedback from others in the profession: a topic I wrote more about this here.

Finland and South Korea achieve at the top of international testing such as PISA. Whilst the reasons for their high achievement are complex, and their classroom environments are diverse, both countries emphasise the importance of observation within teacher training. Teachers have the opportunity to observe established teachers extensively, take notes, and discuss with peers and mentors. This process continues throughout teachers’ careers as professional development, as is considered integral to developing exemplary teachers.

Additionally, these two high-achieving countries devote 15 to 25 hours per week for collaboration and activities such as lesson planning and observing other teachers’ lessons. Similarly, countries including Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Switzerland and Japan devote up to 40% of teachers’ work hours (compared to 20% in the United Sates) to teacher preparation and collaboration.

If you’re commencing a research degree I urge you to consider observation as a data collection method. Sure it can be time consuming and you need to be a really good note-taker, but it is an incredibly rewarding process that allows the researcher to develop a deep understanding and appreciation for their topic. Finally, I urge principals, heads of department, and teachers to develop partnerships that facilitate peer-to-peer observations. It can be intimidating allowing someone into your ‘space,’ but there is so much to gain from the experience.


Read more:


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“Self-Regulated Learning:” Just Another Buzz Word?

Self-regulated learning (along with ‘life-long learning’) is one of those buzz words that I hear all the time but was never really sure what it meant. I stumbled, somehow, across some research relating to self-regulated learning (SRL) and quickly realised it was actually pretty relevant to my study, and that I should probably include some information about SRL in my dissertation. The purpose of today’s blog post is to explore SRL in a little detail in addition to outlining how to develop SRL and the benefits of SRL.

Self-regulated learning is a particular style of engagement, in which the learner is proactive and exhibits a range of behaviours and skills. The idea that learners should be proactive ties closely with the constructivist ideology, which considers students should be active in and take responsibility for their learning. Additionally, there is much overlap between metacognitive skills (link to blog post) and skills for SRL. Such skills and behaviours include:

  • Goal setting (particularly for knowledge gain)
  • Selecting strategies to ensure progress is being made towards a goal
  • Using time efficiently
  • Re-adjusting goals and strategies to ensure progress continues
  • Learning new strategies to overcome challenges
  • Knowledge of one’s own beliefs, understandings, skills and motivation.

The Three-Phase Cycle of SRL

I understand SRL in relation to Zimmerman’s cycle. The three phases in ZImmerman’s cycle are the:

  • Forethought phase,
  • Performance Control phase, and
  • Self-Reflection phase.

You may notice this cycle bears striking resemblance to the three phases of metacognition (planning, monitoring and evaluating) discussed my my previous article (link). It’s important to remember that SRL is not a singly process or skill: rather, it’s a cumulative product of the three-phase cycle.


Forethought phase:

  • Thought proceeds action
  • This is where planning occurs
  • Task value, self-efficacy and goal orientations are crucial in this phase as these determine how a plan of action or a task will be approached.

Performance Control:

  • Processes that occur during action
  • Self-control and self-evaluation are particularly important during this phase. These skills are employed to monitor and regulate learning, manage resources and collect information required for phase three.
  • Self-control: strategies a learner employs in order to complete a task
  • Self-evaluation: metacognitive monitoring of performance.


  • Occurs directly after a task
  • Related to performance in the task
  • Main categories are self-judgements and self-reactions
  • Self-judgements: comparing performance against a standard (e.g. a rubric or goals)
  • Self-reaction: determining how you feel about your performance – are you satisfied? Did you manage your stress levels? Do you have positive or negative feelings about the task?
  • Positive self-reactions can lead to increased motivation which contributes to increased engagement in maths (Zimmerman, 2002)

But Why Should Learners be Self-Regulating?

  • Proactive learners tend to have higher quality forethought and a better capacity for self-regulation (Kaur & Areepattamannil, 2012)
  • SRL are strategic learners who are active in their learning processes: they know where they want to be and how to get there
  • Tend to have higher self-efficacy
  • Stronger capacity to be self-directed, with an increased capacity to make adjustments if a task is not proceeding as anticipated.
  • They are effective learners, able to use a suite of skills to tailor their learning to their needs (Butler & Winne, 1995)
  • SRL is linked to mastery goals, deep processing, and help-seeking behaviour (Furner & Gonzalez-DeHass, 2011; Kitsantas & Zimmerman, 2009)
  • SRL is a key competency for life-long learning (Dignath, Beuttner & Langfeldt, 2008)
  • More likely to attribute failure to controllable behaviours rather than personal inadequacy (Kitsantas & Zimmerman, 2009)

How Can We Develop Self-Regulated Learners?

Targeted training that focusses on the skills and processes used in self-regulated learning. In particular, training should focus on strategies with a focus that are:

  • Cognitive: involving elaboration and problem-solving strategies
  • Metacognitive: in particular involving planning strategies
  • Motivational: especially feedback

This requires professional development and teacher training to ensure that teachers feel confident in facilitating the development these skills in students. Strategies should be well-integrated so that they are not viewed as an optional (unnecessary) add-on.

It is important that students have opportunities to experience autonomy over their learning in order for them to develop as self-regulated learners. This could occur by encouraging students to set specific goals, teaching explicit study strategies and giving students flexibility and capacity to make choices in their learning.

It’s pretty overwhelming to consider the vast array of skills required to develop self-regulated learners. This is why I like to consider it in relation to the three phases. I might focus on developing one particular phase or skill at a time, such as capacity for self-reflection or perhaps goal setting. As students begin to master this particular skill I would move on to the next one, and the next, so that students develop an array of techniques and strategies to employ for effective learning. It takes time: some students learn these skills intuitively, whilst others require more explicit, concentrated instruction to develop them. It is clear, however, that any energy invested is well worth it. Self-Regulated Learning is not just a ‘buzz word,’ a phase, a fad. It is a critical skill for learners (and professionals) in the twenty-first century.


  • Butler, D. L., & Winne, P. H. (1995). Feedback and Self-Regulated Learning: A Theoretical Synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 65(3), 245 -281. doi:10.3102/00346543065003245
  • Dignath, Beuttner & Langfeldt, (2008). How can primary school students learn self-regulated learning
    strategies most effectively? A meta-analysis on self-regulation training programmes
  • Furner & Gonzalez-DeHass, (2011) How do Students’ Mastery and Performance Goals Relate to Math
  • Kaur & Areepattamannil, (2012) Influences of Metacognitive and Self-Regulated Learning Strategies for Reading on Mathematical Literacy of Adolescents in Australia and Singapore
  • Kitsantas & Zimmerman, (2009). College Students’ Homework and Mathematics Achievement
  • Zimmerman, (2002). Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview
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The thrill of data collection: revelations and reflections from the field.

I had a bit of a shock this week: I love data collection.

I know that I am prone to hyperbole, but in this case my statement is 100% accurate. I LOVE data collection and far more than I expected to.

At the time of publishing I have surveyed the class I am working with and interviewed four students: this is my ‘time 1’ (or ‘pre-intervention’) data collection. Generally speaking, I do not complete any uni work over the weekend. The luxury of being a full-time uni student and working casually is that I can complete most of my work during the day, leaving night-time and weekends of relaxation and socialising. This is particularly important for me as I’m prone to working obsessively and such a schedule helps to maintain a work-life balance.  

This weekend was a different story. Whilst I managed a breakfast date, a beach photography session, and a run, my desire to indulge myself in study couldn’t be suppressed. I spent the weekend pouring over survey responses, looking for trends, and considering reasons behind the students’ answers. It was the most fun I’ve had completing uni work in a long time.

On Monday and Tuesday I completed four 25-minute interviews, purposefully selected to represent a range of students. The result of this was a rather rude introduction to completing transcriptions. “They’re just a twenty-minute interview” I thought naively “how long can it take?”

A while. It took a while.

Each interview is between 2000 and 2500 words. It takes a not-insignificant length of time to type out that many words: thank goodness twenty-years of piano-playing have resulted in me having fairly adept typing skills.

It was draining, but it was so enjoyable. I have never experienced an academic challenge so deeply satisfying as developing your own study and exploring your own data. It’s brilliant. The luxury of spending two hours speaking in-depth with students about what they think and feel about mathematics is the best professional development I have ever experienced.

I feel personally connected to the data: I want to understand it, I want to reflect on it in light of literature I have spent the last two years reading. I am surprised at a number of trends that have emerged from the data (bearing in mind the data is collected from an advanced year nine class in a co-educational independent school in regional NSW). This is in no way a comprehensive or complete list, and I’ve purposely kept data as ambiguous as possible (given that it’s unpublished at present) however, the following points are of interest:

  • Students value maths. Highly. Literature I have read suggests that mathematics is socially devalued and that it is ‘cool to hate maths.’ Surprisingly, students indicated the contrary to be true, stating time and time again that mathematics, along with science and English are ‘core’ subjects and integral to school and career success.
  • Students like connections between what’s being taught and ‘real-life’ to be made explicit. Yes, not everything we teach in mathematics (like most subjects) is directly relevant to real life. Nonetheless, learning should be contextualised. For example ‘this algebra skill leads into these topics in senior that underpin these careers’ or ‘this year 10 topic on exponentials leads into a topic in senior mathematics on growth and decay that has many applications in biology and chemistry’ and so forth.
  • Students believed that if you work hard you can achieve success, and that a positive ‘mindset’ is a key factor in improvements in educational outcomes.
  • Students believed that intelligence and talent are both malleable, although you’re born with a certain amount of intelligence.
  • Time and time again students emphasised the importance of the teacher and the teacher’s explanations in generating understanding. They valued clear, logical explanations and the teacher following-up any misunderstandings with students.
  • Students find peer-to-peer interactions useful in generating understanding. They appreciate their peers can provide an alternate, “lay-man’s” explanation of concepts they are struggling with.

I strongly implore teachers to consider a research-based masters, or a masters with a strong research component. It’s fantastic. You get to learn about the things that interest you. It’s (currently) covered by the Research Training Scheme (RTS) which means it’s FREE (yes, free). It’s highly flexible: with fewer deadlines I can work easily around my schedule. For example, some weeks I work a lot or am really social. I don’t get much study done those weeks but I compensate for it at other times when I have less on my plate. In completing a coursework masters there are more frequent, shorter, deadlines. For some people that is necessary – or else study would get shoved to the back of the pile of things to never be completed. Personally I much prefer it: picking a topic that completely fascinates you is crucial for this.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be completing in-class observations, something I’m incredibly excited about. I am fortunate to be working with a teacher I deeply admire and respect and I believe I will learn a lot from them that will enhance my teaching practice.

I’m interested to hear from other teachers that have chosen to complete their masters via research: what was your experiences? What did you perceive to be the advantages and disadvantages of studying via research versus coursework?


Read my post about the journey beginning data collection here

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DCB (Data Collection Begins)!

In mid-2011 at the encouragement of my then school principal I enrolled in a Master of Education (Honours). I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do: to be honest when I started teaching I really just wanted to keep learning. I wanted to know know more about theories of education and students’ affective domain. As someone who had for a long time contemplated studying medicine, the field of educational psychology appealed immensely to me. Over the next two years I veeeeery slowly worked my way through four units of coursework (interrupted by semesters of enrolment in only one unit, or no units). Finally, in semester two last year I commenced the research component of my course.

I was interested, initially, in Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and the relationship between PBL and students’ attitudes towards learning mathematics. I read the works of Ron Ritchhart (intellectual character); Carol Dweck (mindset and theories of intelligence); Linda Darling-Hammond, Piaget; Vygotsky; Bandura; and von Glaserfeld. Slowly, over time, my areas of interest morphed. I developed my understanding of what it was like to be a teacher in a classroom. I began to greater appreciate the divide between academia and teaching practice, and the disdain in which many teachers (rightly) hold educational research. It is often viewed as cold, abstract, and elusive: failing to appreciate the demands of day-to-day teaching.

I wanted my study to be relevant and practical and accessible to teachers. I didn’t want some difficult-to-implement program that was costly in terms of both time and money. So I reflected, intensively, on what made me a successful learner. And I realised that I reflected, A LOT. Yes I was self-critical but generally it was in a ‘productive’ way: I considered my areas of success and my shortcomings so that I could modify my learning to do better next time. I really understood my own learning. I realised I had excellent metacognitive skills and a fantastic capacity to self-reflect. I theorised this is what contributed to my success as a learner.

The movement of a jellyfish is the best analogy I can think of to describe the process of defining an area of research interest. You read more and your topic grows. You consolidate the knowledge, drawing your topic back in, and shoot forward. Read some more, and out expands the topic again, reflect on this new knowledge, align it with what you already know, and in it shrinks and you spurt forward.  And so it continues.

I completed Confirmation of Candidature in September last year. Confirmation was incredibly significant in terms of clarifying my topic, considering a fresh angles, and landing me an additional co-supervisor. The opportunity to present ideas to a panel and to receive their feedback on your research is somewhat (very) intimidating, but also a powerful and useful process.

Ethics applications were submitted (and eventually, after much back and forth) approved in November. I received approval from a local high school to conduct my study, and lined up a teacher and a class.

I was ready for 2014: the year of data collection.

Tomorrow, data collection begins. The surveys are printed. Consent forms have been collected. After two and a half years of thinking and reading and refining and writing I’m finally ready to collect some original data.

It’s simultaneously exciting, nerve-wracking and anti-climatic.

After tomorrow’s surveys I will be conducting interviews with a small group of students, before commencing four weeks of lesson observations. At the end of the four weeks there will be another round of surveys and interviews. And then I’ll be able to see if what I’ve theorised has held true. If it does, fantastic. If it doesn’t, that’s okay: it’s still a result.

My results will be included as a pilot study after I (hopefully) upgrade to PhD. 2015 will see a second round of data collection with more students and more classes. It is interesting to reflect back on how much I have learned over the past few years. Perhaps it was my twenty-fifth birthday on Tuesday that contributed to this particularly reflective mood. Perhaps it’s the nature of my research itself. Or perhaps it boils down to my personality. Regardless of the prompt it is useful to take stock, particularly at these ‘milestone’ moments of our lives. To acknowledge how far we’ve come, what we’ve learnt, we’ve achieved. Post-graduate study might not be for everyone: it’s demanding of energy and it’s time consuming. But it’s incredibly rewarding and interesting, and worthy of consideration.

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Reflections on My Time Curating EduTweetOz

I was extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to host EduTweetOz Twitter account during the first school week for 2014. EduTweetOz provides an invaluable platform for collaboration amongst teachers, particularly those in rural/remote communities. Additionally, EduTweetOz facilitates teachers with a forum to canvass issues that concern them, and allows teachers to self-advocate for change. It’s an incredibly empowering environment to be a part of.

When Michelle and Corrine first contacted me about hosting my initial reaction was utter terror. With just three years teaching experience under my belt I was dubious as to whether I had the knowledge, skill, or expertise to host a Twitter account that has 3,500 followers. With so many experienced and well-respected educators previously curating EduTweetOz (and doing amazing jobs) I was concerned I would be woefully inadequate. I was unsure if I had enough to talk about, and whether my lack of teaching experience would be held in contempt – what could I possibly contribute to a discussion on education? I considered declining the offer; purely out of fear of ‘failure.’

However, after further reflection I decided that his opportunity was too good to let pass me by. I love a good discussion on education, I love talking about my research in mathematics education, and I love improving my knowledge of education. Hosting EduTweetOz facilitate me to do all these things.

So I started planning. I made an extremely colourful Excel table divided up into the days of the week so I could determine what I wanted to tweet about. Each day had a particular focus or theme: Australia day, starting back at work, advice for beginning teachers, and so forth. My planning document included discussion questions, links to articles I had read and written, and cartoons and pictures I had seen. I tried to vary my discussion questions, with some focussed on getting to know people, others on aspects of teaching practice, and others with a more political slant. I take the notion that ‘perfect preparation prevents poor performance’ seriously, and found this planning time invaluable in preparing me mentally for the week ahead.

In my planning I consider what issues were pertinent to me as an educator. My English Extension 1 teacher, in a unit on narratives, informed us we should ‘write what we know.’ I apply this approach to my own blogging, tweeting, and now to curating. What do I know about? I know about being an Early Career Teacher, about growing up and teaching in regional areas, about maths education, and about my research (self-reflection, constructivism, metacognition and the affective domain). By taking the time to consider these topics I felt assured I had a diverse range of subjects with which I could tweet about confidently.

Nervous as anything, I logged into the EduTweetOz twitter account last Sunday, a flurry self-doubting questions dominating my cognition. Have I prepared good enough tweets? Will people engage in discussion? Am I way out of my depth? My fears were quickly allayed: responses came rapidly and from a variety of educators as we launched into a discussion of reporting and the state of mathematics education. It was challenging. It was confusing keeping track of the volume of replies. But it was fun. I loved it.

Some time on Monday I had the idea of asking teachers to share photos of their workspaces and tag it #ETOphoto. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Teachers invest much time and effort (and expense!) into preparing their classrooms and developing them into environments conducive to quality learning. They are rightly proud and deserve to be. I considered this exercise would also be an opportunity to get to know each other a little better, and to share some ideas about what works in a classroom. I would encourage future hosts to run a photo challenge: there’s many different avenues available!

Maintaining a balance between my own work (study) and the curating the EduTweetOz account (in addition to normal ‘life’) was one of the most significant challenges of my week. It was necessary for me to form some strict guidelines for myself regarding frequency and duration of how often I would be online. Even so, it could be challenging not to open twitter just to ‘check in.’

On the whole, however, I found hosting EduTweetOz conducive to study. Engaging discussions with other educators increased my personal momentum for my own work, as it left me energised and excited to learn more about education. In addition, teachers would frequently tweet me a diverse range of articles, thus increasing the scope of my professional reading. Finally, hearing a range of different perspectives from teachings has significantly deepened my personal understanding of education in Australia. I’ve made some wonderful connections this week, and I am sincerely grateful for everyone who took the time to participate in discourse with me.

Curating EduTweetOz has been one of the highlights of my teaching career. It is rare as a young teacher to have the opportunity to connect with such a multifarious range of educators. To have the platform to share my own thoughts and experiences, and to highlight the aspects of education I find most interesting and concerning. I thoroughly recommend contacting Michelle or Corinne to express your interest in hosting EduTweetOz. It is not an easy job, but it is incredibly worthwhile.

You can check out the storify of some of my days hosting here, here, here, and here.


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Anorexia is not an adjective

To Whom It May Concern:

It was with great sadness and frustration that I read the article Housing Crisis by Louis Nowra in this weekend’s (25th Janurary) Good Weekend.


In particular, I took great objection to Nowra’s description of arriving at a house ‘to be greet by an anoxeric [sic] woman.’ Anorexia is a mental illness; a medical condition. It has no place in a description of anyone not diagnosed with such a condition, especially someone the author (apparently) has not warmed to, as this frames the condition as something of which the sufferer should be embarrassed.

Leukemia is a medical condition. Anorexia Nervosa is also a medical condition. When was the last time you described someone as “leukemic”? The trend in reducing an incredibly serious condition to a descriptive moniker synonymous with “thin” is incredibly reductive and erases the suffering of those affected. Anorexia is a noun, referring to an individual who is living with the tortuous disease that has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. The mortality rate for individuals with eating disorders is 12 times that in people without eating disorders. Perhaps the word Nowra was searching for was the adjective anorectic, which refers to having no appetite, a loss of appetite, or an individual that is diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.

Grammatical and orthographical tussles aside, neither ‘anorexic’ nor ‘anorectic’ is an appropriate way to describe someone’s body type. Why? Because people diagnosed with anorexia come in all shapes and sizes, and using it as a synonym for “thin” erases sufferers and undermines their selfhood.

 When the media acts with such apparent disregard to the thoughts and feelings of those affected by anorexia it perpetuates a culture of stigmatisation of mental illness. It has to stop. I implore editors to act with responsibility and sensitivity.

Perhaps it may be prudent for the editors and authors alike to reflect upon the Mindframe media guidelines for responsible reporting of eating disorders.

For more information see the National Eating Disorders Collaboration or the Butterfly Foundation.

Kind regards,

Madeline Beveridge

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No post on Sundays

Well it’s not Sunday, but there’s not going to be an original post on Matthitude this week unfortunately!

I’ve been hosting EduTweetOz, which I’ve enjoyed immensely. You can check out a storify of what I’ve been up to here, here and here.

I’m also extremely excited as I heard from my principal tonight and I’m good to go with data collection. Just need to make a time to meet with the maths HOD and teacher I’m working with and we’re good to go. It’s amazing to think that I’m at this point. Data collection will take most of term one and involve surveys, interviews and observation. I’m analysing students’ interactions to look at how self-reflection and metacognition impact on students’ academic decision-making.

Next week’s post will probably be about Self-Regulated Learning: what is is, how to help develop it, and what the benefits of it are.

Enjoy the rest of your week.


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Madeline Beveridge: Maths teacher, blogger and researcher

Reblog: This week I’m hosting the EduTweetOz twitter account. The following is my responses for a little introductory ‘interview’ I did.


Madeline Beveridge will be taking over the reigns of EduTweetOz on the evening of Sunday, January 26, following an inspiring week from primary principal, Jason Borton.


She’s been keeping a blog, Mathitude for the last 6 months which is always very thoughtful and interesting, and she has the ability to explain some pretty complex issues in clear terms.

I find I learn a lot from her blogs and twitter presence., She often causes me to pause and reflect critically on what I think about things, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she’ll bring to the account this week.

Here are her answers to our five questions:

Please tell us a little about your background in education. Why did you decide to become involved in education? What are some of the roles you’ve had and what does your current role involve?

I very much consider myself a ‘beginning…

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Why I blog

I was recently approached by Corinne Campbell to guest host the EduTweetOz twitter account in 2014. My initial response was a combination of gentle nervousness and extreme terror as I questioned my ability to continue the incredibly high standard of information sharing achieved by my predecessors in this role. After my immediate fears subsided I started reflecting on what prompted me to begin blogging and tweeting, and on what I perceive to be the benefits of these activities for teachers. When I first started writing Matthitude around six months ago, my primary aim was to improve my writing (practise makes perfect!) as I worked on my postgraduate research degree. In addition, I hoped to connect to other educators online and widen the scope of my professional reading. Upon reflection, however, I’ve come to realise that there are far more benefits of blogging and teaching to educators. Here are six of my favourite benefits to connecting with the online education community:

1. Connecting with other educators. Though this is slightly obvious, it bears a mention.Through blogging and tweeting I’ve dramatically widened the scope of educators I’ve connected to beyond anything I could have anticipated. Doing so has allowed me to see things in new ways, consider alternative approaches to education, and really broaden my field of understanding. Twitter exposes me to fresh thinking and totally new ideas and has invigorated my own teaching practice: it is hard not to feel enthusiastic about teaching when regularly connecting to passionate and inspiring educators. Furthermore, through blogging and tweeting teachers can develop online communities which offer support and rapport: something that is particularly important for educators in rural or remote regions.

2. Reflection. It’s no secret that reflection is significant element of my academic research. I’ve written on reflection for this blog several times before (here; here; and here) to highlight the invaluable nature of reflection in the classroom. The benefits of reflection aren’t restricted to students: they apply to all individuals in all industries, and even in our personal lives (including relationships and hobbies). John Dewey, who many consider to be the first real proponent of reflection, summarised the benefits of reflection thus:

“What [an individual] has learned in the way of knowledge and skill in one situation becomes an instrument of understanding and dealing effectively with situations which follow. The process goes on as life and learning continue” (1938, p. 44).

It is through reflection that we make latent thought processes explicit. It is through reflection that we acknowledge our successes (and shortcomings). It is through reflection that we learn from our experiences in order to become better educators. Tweeting and blogging serves to be a prompt to increase the frequency of self-reflection. I realised I’ve started a number of blog posts lately with “this prompted me to reflect…” When engaging with other educators on twitter I am compelled to consider how their experiences apply to my life.

3. Blogging helps to crystalise thinking. Following from the above point on reflection, blogging has caused me to examine my own teaching practice and clarify my position on a number of issues. Writing serves to transform these thoughts and ideas from being abstract to concrete. The process of editing causes me to really hone in and refine my thinking on a variety of issues, so I can clearly articulate my own perspective.

 4. Feedback. Feedback is critical for growth and development. Without reflection and feedback we stagnate: and feedback is equally as important for beginning teachers as it is for my more experienced colleagues. As with reflection, feedback is a time to acknowledge successes (and note areas for improvement) and develop necessary strategies required for progress. I love receiving comments on my articles. A positive comment or “I agree” warms the cockles of my heart. A critique, or alternate perspective provides me with food for thought, often prompting me to consider a different angle or acknowledge shortcomings in my thinking. In addition, feedback via blogs and twitter can provide affirmation of one’s experiences: ideas, victories, successes can easily be dismissed in isolation, but when they are acknowledge by another individual they become more ‘real.’ In particular, as a beginning teacher, (with less than five years experience) I have been critical of what I can contribute to discussions on education. However, through feedback and discussions with other educators, I can know acknowledge that I bring my own, unique, and valuable perspective to the table.

5. Generation of personal momentum. Connecting with others via twitter and wordpress has generated huge levels of motivation for me: feeding into both my work as a teacher, and as a researcher. Blogging causes me to lift my game: when I hit ‘publish’ I know that my article or tweet is out on the web for all to see. Including future employers. I want to be the best teacher and researcher I can be, to ensure that the image I present online is authentic.

6. Professional Development. The professional development that is brought about through online engagements is some of the best I’ve experienced. The research that I do for my articles has broadened my understanding of a diverse range of educational issues, including some which would not have crossed my radar without online engagement with other educators. This research is consolidated through educational ‘debates’ on twitter and writing of articles for Matthitude. It’s also one of the cheapest (if not THE) cheapest forms of professional development. Forums such as EduTweetOz and Learning Frontiers provide daily avenues for collaboration amongst educators and sharing of ideas, and are accessible for educators right across the country. Living in a rural area it can be difficult to access professional development: PD generally requires an (expensive) trip to the nearest capital city. Twitter and WordPress brings these educators into my living room (and technically bedroom too, but lets not get weird). This is in addition to the professional development that occurs via points one to five above.

Undoubtedly there are innumerable reasons for educators to get engaged online. The enormous growth that has occurred over the past few years will only continue as more and more educators see the benefits of logging in. For beginning teachers, or those new to Twitter or WordPress, I really encourage you to become involved. For some hints on where to start, check out this informative image of some of the most used (education-relevant) hashtags on twitter, (via Travis Lyon).

Happy blogging!








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Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New YorK; Collier Books, Macmillan.





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