Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences
I joined the University of Nottingham in 1993, having spent time as Lecturer at both the University of Bath and the Open University. Before that I was a mathematics teacher, and advisor in Moçambique. I graduated in Mathematics from Manchester with a BSc and MSc in Applied Statistical Analysis and Random Processes, and obtained an MA in Education from the Open University in 1989 and PhD from Nottingham in 2000 titled "A study of the structure of the professional orientation of two teachers of Mathematics: A sociological approach".
I am an Associate Professor in Education and a member of the Centre for Research in Mathematics Education. Although I have a mathematical background I have gravitated to become a sociologist of education with a particular interest in equity and social justice.
I teach on the MA in Educational Research Methods, the MA in Learning and Teaching and supervise research students on PhD, MPhil, MRes, EdD courses.
For many years I taught on the PGCE course for mathematics teachers and have edited a book for new mathematics teachers titled Issues in Mathematics Teaching published by RoutledgeFalmer.
Along with Tony Cotton, I was the founder of the Mathematics Education and Society (MES) group which organises biennial international conferences - Nottingham 1998, Portugal 1999, Denmark 2002, Australia 2005, Portugal 2008.
I am also the list administrator for three e-mail discussion lists: mathematics-education - which links around 500 maths educators from across the world mes-conf - which links those interested in the Mathematics Education and Society Conference pme-mail - which provides a forum for member of PME
Having said all that of course my main interests in life are my family, Jane Hart, Sophie (b. 1994) and Megan (b 1998) who keep me sane and drive me mad.
I supervise a large number of research students in the areas of social justice and education, child labour, mathematics teacher development, mathematics education and social class.
My research interests are related to equity, justice and social class issues in education and development. In particular I am interested in working in:
School to work transitionsMathematics Education and social justiceSociology of learning mathematics in schoolInformation technology and social class in schoolsClassroom practices and teacher ideologyMathematics education and social exclusionCritical social research methodsSocial class influences on pupil learning of mathematicsParental involvement and exclusion in schoolsPupil grouping in school mathematics and the influence of social class
I also act as a supervisor for research students working for MPhil and PhD degrees in these areas and am happy to discuss possible projects with prospective students.
Because I feel research has both an illuminative and an emancipatory capacity much of my work is located in and around issues of social class and equity in Nottingham. I currently mange several research projects:
<Young Participation in Higher Education in the Parliamentary Constituency of Nottingham North>
<Understanding Teenage Pregnancy in Nottingham City>
<The influence of location of provision and recruitment to FE courses in Nottingham>
I also manage an <international directory of mathematics education researchers>.
Peter is a member of the Centre for Research in Schools and Communities. His research supervision areas include:
- mathematics education and social exclusion
- critical social research methods
- mathematics education and social justice
- parental involvement and exclusion in schools
- pupil grouping in school mathematics and the influence of social class
- social class influences on pupil learning of mathematics
- sociology of learning and teacher ideology
Research proposals: please email Peter if you would like to discuss the appropriateness of your research topic. He would welcome proposals based around the following projects from appropriately qualified applicants:
National research cultures in mathematics education
Published research literature in international journals purports to be objective, "state of the art" reflections of intellectual activity. However the literature is dominated by western capitalist economies, communicating through the medium of English. In what ways does this linguistic and cultural dominance give access to, or silence other voices in mathematics education research. There is a need to understand different national practices in mathematics education and to examine the distortions caused by the need to fit in with dominant agendas and discourses.
Visualisation, mental modelling and learning mathematics
As we learn more about how the brain functions it is becomes clearer how important visual forms of representation are to learning mathematics. However, it is less clear that visual modes of thinking and representing are prevalent in mathematics classrooms. Indeed much pedagogy seems to depend greatly upon textual and linguistic forms rather than visual spatial forms. There is a need to explore how children use mental imagery in coming to understand mathematical ideas and processes and in how mathematics teachers themselves have sensitivity to visual forms.
Mathematics in transition between school and work
The gap between the forms of mathematics that young people encounter in school and the mathematics used in workplace scenarios has always been significant. Indeed, this is so significant it is sometimes argued that not only are school mathematics and workplace mathematics quite different, but also that the whole idea of the possibility of transference is more problematic that sometimes thought. There is a need to understand the various forms of mathematics, but also to explore the possibilities for curriculum change in schools.
Mathematical underachievement and pupil social-economic backgrounds
It is very well known that pupils from poorer and more disadvantaged socio-economic background do worse in mathematics than those young people form more affluent neighbourhoods. There is however a need to examine a number of questions that arise from this. What micro-processes go on to sustain this stratification at the level of the classroom? What aspects of pupils' cognitive development might be connected to pupils early upbringing?. How some less-affluent pupils actually do succeeded against the odds? What can schools do to buck the trend and support children from poorer home backgrounds?
See also: School of Education research supervision areas.