During training, would-be coaches need to experience and learn how to develop an inclusive, safe, honest learning space, and a growth belief towards mathematics, understanding that mathematical learning can develop from where the individual is. They also need to be able to identify emotional responses to mathematical challenges, and develop agentic behaviour (such as highlighting words that are not understood and looking them up). Training inevitably involves developing personal mathematical resilience by doing some mathematics, starting from what is understood, and building from there. As the GZM is adopted, trainees acknowledge feelings and then engage strategies to dissipate them. Traditionally, a coach will support,

respect, listen, be compassionate, validate, model resiliency, and refrain from judging, thus enabling learners to feel safe, taking risks to grow their capability. It makes a great difference experiencing not being abandoned by peers working on a mathematical task. Reassured that it’s like going on a mountain trek rather than being in a race, learners can share responsibility for keeping each other safe when embarking on mathematical challenges. Trainees can learn how to make learners feel comfortable when making mistakes and experience that ‘got it!’ feeling of significant achievement. Coaches help manage the negative

affective aspects of learning maths that are prevalent. They can help provide time for students to think and reason, along with the idea that everyone can succeed. And they can help establish feelings of ownership, of ‘I did that’, and behaviours that lead to increased success.

Sue Johnston-Wilder is associate professor of mathematics education in the Centre for Education Studies at the University of Warwick.


By Andrew Morris “It’s all evidence-based” is an increasingly common mantra and, at face value, a welcome trend. But do the claims always stand up? It is fashionable now for TV news, radio debates and government

initiatives to lace their pronouncements with this reassuring phrase. The problem is that interests remain: commercial, political and

lobbyist. In a competitive media world, companies, parties and organisations now use evidence claims to attract attention. There are countless ways to dress up research results to add unjustifiable weight to a weak claim. Single studies can be cherry-picked, even though they diverge from the general trend of results. Conclusions from some studies might fail to disclose their limitations. Graphical information can be manipulated to emphasise favourable trends. Such distortions can have serious effects in fields such as medicine, environmental science and civil engineering. In education they can also prove damaging, as the consequences of selective education, for example, show. Fortunately a new tool from the Coalition for Evidence-Based

Andrew Morris is an honorary senior lecturer at the UCL Institute of Education and a member of the national planning group of the Learning and Skills Research Network. Andrew is president of the education section of the British Science Association. Contact Andrew at: a.j.morris@ucl.

Education (CEBE) aims to help practitioners, leaders and the general public combat this tendency. A website, ‘Assessing Claims in Education’, offers advice on how to judge a claim, using some 40 nuggets of information. Is correlation masquerading as causation? Are comparisons fair? Are results transferable? What do confidence intervals and statistical significance tell us? The website is part of a broad international initiative, launched in healthcare and now spanning fields as diverse as agriculture, environment and social welfare. Many aspects of bad evidence claims are common to all fields, so experience elsewhere has enabled the CEBE team to adapt a large body of evidence about evidence for the benefit of education. The tool has been designed for use in professional development sessions as well as for the individual. It is useful for curriculum leaders as well as research champions. The team is keen to refine the tool in response to user feedback, so please let us have your views.


Research and Innovation, Seville, Spain, 16-18 Nov 2017, Published in ICERI2017 Proceedings,

• Assessing Claims in Education • Email

• Visit CEBE at


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