Socio-geographic Dimensions of Mathematics

Social and geographical location and its impact on mathematics teaching and learning​

A large section of the Australian population underachieves in mathematics, with a strong correlation between the low social background/rural location with underachievement. Too many students from poor urban backgrounds or from rural communities are at risk of under-performing in school mathematics. This project identifies the critical factors that contribute to the performance (both low and high) of students from diverse social backgrounds, urban and rural, and seeks to identify and develop improved practices to enable greater access to school mathematics.

A mixed-methods approach was used by employing a comprehensive survey of Australian mathematics teachers, conducting classroom observations and interviews, and reviewing literature and school document to address the following questions:

  1. How do the factors of social and geographic location impact on numeracy learning?

  2. What factors impact on teachers' capacity to provide quality teaching environment for mathematics learning?

  3. How do teachers' identities and beliefs shape their teaching practices for students in low SES and rural contexts?

  4. Do teaching practices differ in different contexts—namely in schools of varying socioeconomic and geographic location?


The outcomes of this project include a profile of the mathematics teaching profession, the identification of classroom practices in specific settings, and a highlight of best practice pedagogies in diverse social and cultural settings within Australia.