Developing our Number Sense at St Peters!

Bronwyn WilsonLearning

Over the years at St Peters many of our teachers have received training in mathematics based on the work of Professor Doug Clarke from Australian Catholic University in his Early Numeracy Research Project.  This research included developing the Mathematics Assessment Interview (MAI). Last year at St Peters we assessed all our students using this assessment.  This is a proven and renowned tool in assessing students’ understanding of important ideas in mathematics in the Primary years of schooling.

Associate Professor Ann Gervasoni one of the researchers in Doug Clarke’s team has further developed this data to inform programing for teachers so that each student’s needs can be individually met.

Last year, Mrs Sarah Smith attended extensive training to become accredited in coordinating this program – Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU), within our school.  It is based on extensive research and has proven to be highly successful in improving student outcomes.

Over the past year we as a school  have implemented the EMU program which complements and supports our current understanding of how students develop deep mathematical understandings.

Listed below are three components of the programme that help to create number sense and mathematical understanding.

Constructing number concepts

To interpret a number, we have to bring together three pieces of information: a known quantity, the word that represents that numerical value of the collection and the symbol used to record this number name.

Constructing a Mental Number Line

An important characteristic of number learning is the forming of a mental number line throughout our school we use bead strings and various other resources to assist students to develop this concept.



Research proves students using materials to model mathematical concepts and idea helps them to develop mental reasoning strategies.  Encouraging students to use visualisation as they move from concrete materials to more abstract concepts.