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Associate Professor Anne Prescott


Associate Professor Anne Prescott started her career as a secondary school teacher of mathematics. She is currently a senior lecturer in primary and secondary mathematics teacher education and coordinates the Master of Teaching (secondary).

2015-2018 Australian Mathematics and Science Partnership Program Grant $1 919 500 Maths Inside: Highlighting the role of maths in society as motivation to engage more in mathematical activities. Anne is the co-Chief investigator with Dr Mary Coupland. The aim of the project is to develop resources to demonstrate to students and their teachers the importance of mathematics and statistics in our lives, highlighting examples where the mathematics is not always visible but is available to students through the mathematics syllabus.

For a number of years, Anne has been working with teachers in a remote area of Nepal, improving the pedagogy within the classroom. These schools are very close to the epicentre of the 2015 earthquake, so loss of life is devastating and the destruction of what little infrastructure existed has been massive. In 2014 Anne was awarded the UTS Human Rights Award for Social Inclusion for her work in making it possible for girls to continue their education in secondary school - she raised the money to build toilets in many schools in the area. For more information see the Sambhav Nepal website.

Anne's research interests student misconceptions in mathematics, teaching practices n schools and the challenges for beginning teachers as they start their careers. In 2015, with Michael Cavanagh, she published "Your Professional Experience Handbook: A guide for preservice teachers" (Pearson).


Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia: Member 2014 Conference organising committee
Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers
Mathematics Association of NSW: Executive member
NSW Institute for Educational Research
Australian College of Educators
North Sydney Region Mathematics Association: Vice President

Australasian Problem Solving Mathematical Olympiad: Vice President

Image of Anne Prescott
Associate Professor, Teacher Education Program
Core Member, CRLC - Centre for Research in Learning and Change
BSc (Macquarie), BA (Macquarie), DipEd (Macquarie), MEd (Macquarie), MSc (Macquarie), PhD (Macquarie)
+61 2 9514 5406

Research Interests

Anne's research interests and areas of doctoral supervision include

  • Mathematics education
  • Teacher learning and development
  • Teacher practices
  • Historical development of examinations
Recent and current research projects include:
  • Investigating technology-mediated, project based learning
  • Retaining effective early career teachers in NSW public schools
  • Investigating teachers authoring their own learning designs
  • Issues confronting pre-service and beginning teachers of mathematics as they enter the profession

Mathematics education in the primary and secondary teacher education programs, professional experience.
Supervision of research students in different areas of education.


Cavanagh, M. & Prescott, A.E. 2015, Your Professional Experience Handbook A Guide for Pre-service Teachers.
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This Australian handbook presents detailed, practical advice on how preservice teachers can confidently approach professional experience placements and the work they undertake with their mentors.
Kalman, R., Phegan, J. & Prescott, A.E. 2008, Maths Olympiad contest problems, Australian, APSMO, Sydney.


Prescott, A.E. & Cavanagh, M. 2013, 'Roles of secondary mathematics mentor teachers during professional experience' in Bausch, I., Pinkernell, G. & Schmitt, O. (eds), Unterrrichtsentwicklung und kompetenzorientierung, WTM, Munster, Germany, pp. 245-254.
Prescott, A.E. 2011, 'Are we singing from the same songbook?' in Schuck, S. & Pereira, P. (eds), What counts in teaching mathematics: Adding value to self and content, Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 161-176.
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Schuck and Pereira have assembled an impressive group of mathematics educators, each of whom offers new ways of thinking about the teaching and learning of mathematics as a consequence of their involvement in self-study. The catalyst for their writing was a concern to "help our students develop mathematical pedagogical content knowledge as well as subject content knowledge ... [because our] soon to be teachers of maths in primary and secondary schools need to recognise, and know how to reduce, the conceptual difficulties that often arise for school students". These authors' efforts in so doing are captured in the chapters of this book in ways that demonstrate an abiding commitment to teaching and learning about mathematics teaching that is the core business of mathematics teacher education. The outcome of a serious consideration of a self-study methodology in researching the teaching and learning of mathematics is clearly evident in each of the chapters. Each of the authors demonstrates how they had to challenge their own conceptions of mathematics teaching and learning in order to develop deeper understandings of their own practice because, ultimately, they were concerned to genuinely challenge their own students' approach to, and understanding of, mathematics. It is this focus on their students' learning that has been so important in shaping their own learning about practice and is clearly an outcome derived from a thoughtful approach to researching practice through self-study.
Kearney, M.D., Young, K.A. & Prescott, A.E. 2009, 'Investigating Prospective Teachers as Learning Design Authors' in Lockyer, L., Bennett, S., Agostinho, S., Harper, B., Wollongong, U.O. & Australia (eds), Handbook of Research on Learning Design and Learning Objects: Issues, Applications, and Technologies, IGI Global, Hershey, USA, pp. 263-281.
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This chapter reports on findings from a recent project situated in the area of preservice teacher education. The project investigated prospective teachers authoring and using their own contextualised learning designs. The chapter describes how 17 secondary and primary preservice teachers adapted existing, well-researched learning strategies to inform the design of their own specific online learning tasks and how they implemented these tasks in the context of their teaching practicum. The prospective teachers used an online learning design authoring system as a tool and flexible `test-bed for their learning designs and implementation. An account of the ways in which the prospective teachers developed sophisticated understandings of their chosen learning strategy and developed fresh insights into online and face-toface teaching issues is presente
Prescott, A.E. & Hellsten, M. 2005, 'Hanging together even with non-native speakers: the international student transition experience' in Ninnes, P. & Hellsten, M. (eds), Internationalizing Higher Education, Springer, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp. 75-95.
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Prescott, A.E., Bausch, I. & Bruder, R. 2013, 'TELPS - Analysing and supporting mathematics teachers' PCK', Proceedings of Conference of the International Group for Psychology of Mathematics Education.
Prescott, A.E., Cavanagh, M., Kennedy, T. & Jaccard, F. 2011, 'Professional reflection and development: Mathematics teacher education lecturers and beginning teachers', MERGA, Alice Springs.
Prescott, A.E., Bausch, I. & Bruder, R. 2011, 'Personal constructs of planning mathematics lessons', proceedings of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics education.
Cavanagh, M. & Prescott, A.E. 2009, 'The reflective thinking of pre-service secondary mathematics teachers', Proceedings of the 33rd conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, PME, Thessaloniki, Greece, pp. 273-280.
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This paper reports on the reflective thinking of three pre-service teachers durihg a one-year teacher education program. We interviewed the participants three times during their practicum and once more in their first year of teaching to investigate the nature and depth of their self-reflections. We developed a three-stage, hierarchical model ofrej/ective practice to Interpret the interview responses. Results show slight »improvement in the participants' practicum reflections and a greater capacity for reflection In their first year ofteaching, but even then their responses were generally :gescriptive in nature. We suggest some reasons for this situation.
Prescott, A.E. & Cavanagh, M. 2008, 'A socio-cultural perspective on the first year of teaching secondary mathematics', Proceedings of the Joint Meeting of PME 32 and PME-NA XXX, PME, PME, Morelia, Mexico, pp. 129-136.
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Prescott, A.E. & Cavanagh, M. 2008, 'A situated perspective on learning to teach secondary mathematics', Navigating currents and charting directions, Navigating currents and charting directions, MERGA, University of Queensland, pp. 407-414.
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Schuck, S.R., Prescott, A.E. & Buchanan, J.D. 2006, 'Sharing and supporting through an online network: Four studies with newly appointed teachers.', Engaging pedagogies: AARE 2006 International Education Research Conference Proceedings, Australian Association for Research in Education, AARE, Adelaide, Australia, pp. 1-18.
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The paper discusses the experiences, needs and concerns of newly appointed teachers in four separate studies conducted by UTS teacher educators over the years 1999-2006. Newly appointed teachers were invited to participate in an online support network in each of the studies. The studies were all small in scale, and allowed teachers to express their concerns, aspirations and experiences to others in the online network. Although participation in the online network was limited, those who did participate found the network to be supportive and helpful in providing much-needed advice and suggestions. Support was offered by mentor teachers, lecturers from the university and the other newly appointed teachers in the network. The paper will highlight the common issues regarding online access to support, as well as aspects of online interaction that were found to be beneficial to participants. It will also discuss issues of participation as highlighted by the different designs of the four studies, and indicate the strengths and weaknesses of each of the research designs with regard to meeting the needs of the participants.
Cavanagh, M. & Prescott, A.E. 2007, 'Professional experience in learning to teach secondary mathematics:Incorporating Pre-service teachers into a community of practice.', Mathematics: Essential Research, Essential Practice Volume 1, Mathematics: Essential research, essential practice, Mathematics Educational Research Group of Australasia, Hobart, Australia, pp. 182-191.
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Wenger (1998) and Lave and Wenger (1991) developed a social theory of cognition in which learning takes place as a result of ones legitimate peripheral participation in a community of practice. In this paper, we apply Lave and Wengers theory in learning to teach secondary mathematics. We report on clinical interview data concerning the practicum experiences of eight students enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Education programs at two universities. Factors which influence the pre-service teachers classroom practice include the pedagogy of the supervising teacher, the academic ability of pupils, and concerns about classroom management.
Prescott, A.E. & Cavanagh, M. 2007, 'Pre-service secondary mathematics teachers: A community of practice'.
Mulligan, J., Mitchelmore, M. & Prescott, A.E. 2006, 'Integrating concepts and processes in early mathematics: The Australian Pattern and Structure Awareness Project (PASMAP)', Proceedings of the 30th conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, PME, Prague, the Czech Republic, pp. 209-216.
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Mulligan, J., Papic, M., Prescott, A.E. & Mitchelmore, M. 2006, 'Improving early numeracy through a Pattern and Structure Mathematics Awareness Program (PASMAP)', Identities, cultures and learning spaces, Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, MERGA, Canberra, Australia, pp. 376-383.
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Prescott, A.E. & Cavanagh, M. 2006, 'An investigation of pre-service secondary mathematics teachers' beliefs as they begin their teacher training', Identities, cultures and learning spaces, Conference of the Mathematics Education research Group of Australasia, MERGA, Canberra, Australia, pp. 424-431.
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Prescott, A.E. & Mitchelmore, M. 2005, 'Student misconceptions about projectile motion', Building Connections: research, theory and practice, MERGA, MERGA, Melbourne, pp. 633-640.
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Misconceptions, projectile motion, high school
Prescott, A.E. & Mitchelmore, M. 2005, 'Teaching projectile motion to eliminate misconceptions', PME 29, PME, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, pp. 97-104.
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Mulligan, J., Mitchelmore, M. & Prescott, A.E. 2005, 'Case studies of children's development of structure in early mathematics', PME 29, PME, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 41-48.
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Mulligan, J., Prescott, A. & Mitchelmore, M. 2004, 'Children's development of structure in early mathematics', proceedings of the conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education.
Mulligan, J. & Prescott, A.E. 2003, 'First graders' use of structure in visual memory and unitising area tasks', Mathematics Education Research:Innovation, Networking, Opportunity - Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Asutralasia MERGA 26, MERGA, MERGA, Geelong, Australia, pp. 539-546.
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A cross-sectional descriptive study of 103 Grade I students from ten Sydney schools investigated the use of mathematical and spatial structure across 30 numeracy tasks. This report describes students' levels of structural development across two key tasks on visual memory and area as emergent, partial or identifiable structure. Lower-achieving students who lacked structure in their responses did not appear to be located on the same developmental path as other students. Qualitative analysis supported the findings of Gray, Pitta and Tall (2000) and Thomas, Mulligan and Goldin (2002) - that in the abstraction of mathematical concepts these students may concentrate on idiosyncratic non-mathematical aspects of their experience.
Prescott, A.E., Mitchelmore, M. & White, P. 2002, 'Student difficulties in abstracting angle concepts from physical activities with concrete materials', 25th annual conference MERGA, MERGA, Auckland, NZ, pp. 583-591.

Journal articles

Prescott, A.E. & Pressick-Kilborn, K.J. 2015, 'It's great to be doing maths! Engaging primary students in a lunchtime club', Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, vol. 23, pp. 34-49.
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Prescott, A.E. & Maltas, D. 2014, 'Calculus-based mathematics: An Australian endangered species', Australian Senior mathematics Journal, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 39-49.
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Many people are discussing the issues surrounding mathematics at all levels of education. Politicians, parents, students, universities, education departments all have a view about what the problem is and all have ideas about what should happen. This paper represents a synthesis of the issues and implications of one of the problems evident in mathematics education in Australia: the reduction in students taking the higher mathematics subjects that involve calculus. It makes particular reference to NSW where it appears the problem has a critical edge as the number of students undertaking higher level mathematics subjects decreases and the number of students not taking mathematics increases.
Burke, P.F., Schuck, S.R., Aubusson, P.J., Buchanan, J.D., Louviere, J.J. & Prescott, A.E. 2013, 'Why do early career teachers choose to remain in the profession? The use of best-worst scaling to quantify key factors', International Journal of Educational Research, vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 259-268.
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Many countries report high attrition rates among beginning teachers. The literature cites many factors that influence a teachers decision to remain in the profession. These include remuneration, workload, support, administration and parents. It is unclear, however, which factors matter most to teachers and, consequently, where best to direct limited resources. This study uses Best-worst Scaling (BWS) and complementary experimental design methods to quantify the relative importance of these factors. The results suggest that improving student engagement, experiencing professional challenges and enjoying collegial support are the most important factors influencing teacher decisions to stay in the profession. Beginning teachers nominate remuneration, recognition, and external factors (e.g., class size; location) as playing a lesser role in their decision to remain teachers.
Bruder, R. & Prescott, A.E. 2013, 'Research evidence on the benefits of IBL', ZDM Mathematics Education, vol. 45, no. 6, pp. 811-822.
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This paper describes the current state of knowledge of empirical studies in the broader sense dealing with inquiry-based learning (IBL) of mathematics and science subjects in schools and universities. The advantages, disadvantages, and effects on relevant outcomes that students can achieve in IBL classrooms are discussed from the aspect of further developing teaching quality. First, the conceptual aspects of IBL are considered briefly to show the background of the studies and the results are categorized. Secondly, references are given with explanations or possible reasons for the results that are not always consistent and, at times, even contradictory. Finally, conclusions from current studies including this overview are drawn with respect to open scientific questions.
Buchanan, J.D., Prescott, A.E., Schuck, S.R., Aubusson, P.J., Burke, P.F. & Louviere, J.J. 2013, 'Teacher retention and attrition: Views of early career teachers', The Australian Journal of Teacher education, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 112-129.
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The provision and maintenance of quality teachers is a matter of priority for the profession. Moreover, teacher attrition is costly to the profession, to the community and to those teachers who leave feeling disillusioned. There is a need to investigate the experiences of early career teachers to consider how these issues contribute to decisions about staying in or leaving the profession. This paper reports on an aspect of a larger study on teacher retention. It describes and analyses the experiences of teachers participating in the study and highlights implications for teacher retention. The study proposes the notion of `resilient stayers, and how beginning teachers resilience might be strengthened and supported. It asks what combination of circumstances in the school and the system, and individual resources of resilience on the part of early career teachers, might maximise the chances of teachers choosing to remain in the profession.
Prescott, A.E., Bausch, I. & Bruder, R. 2013, 'TELPS: A method for analysing mathematics pre-service teachers' Pedagogical Content Knowledge.', Teaching And Teacher Education, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 43-50.
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A pre-service teacher's Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) and their personal constructs of teaching develop throughout their teacher education program. PCK integrates generic pedagogical knowledge, mathematical teaching methodology and knowledge of the discipline of mathematics and this paper reports on a survey that can be used to assess a pre-service teacher's PCK. TELPS (Teacher Education Lesson Plan Survey) was developed to determine the PCK of pre-service teachers during their teacher education program. TELPS is shown to analyse pre-service teachers' PCK with some indication that the pre-service teacher's development of PCK can be observed.
Prescott, A.E. 2011, 'Student misconceptions about projectile motion', Reflections, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 20-24.
Cavanagh, M. & Prescott, A.E. 2011, 'Ten good reasons to mentor a student teacher: Advantages for supervising mathematics teachers and their classes', Australian Mathematics Teacher, vol. 67, no. 2, pp. 6-10.
The article discusses research on the early career secondary mathematics teachers in Sydney, New South Wales, with particular focus on the professional experience of student teachers. It says explores the role of supervising teachers in the knowledge and skills development of student teachers and the benefits they and students obtained from them. It states that supervisors are provided with opportunities to influence the teaching profession by supporting student teachers.
Cavanagh, M. & Prescott, A.E. 2010, 'The growth of reflective practice among three beginning secondary mathematics teachers', Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 147-159.
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This paper reports a study of three beginning secondary mathematics teachers and how their reflective practice developed during a one-year university teacher education program and concurrent professional fieldwork experience or practicum. The participants were interviewed three times during the practicum and once more in their first year of teaching, to investigate the nature and depth of their self-reflections about the practicum and their relationship with their supervising teachers. A three-stage, hierarchical model of reflective practice (Lee, 2005) was used to interpret the interview responses. Results show some improvement in the participants' ability to reflect on their teaching during the practicum, while also highlighting the importance of the practicum school context in their professional formation and professional development. The beginning teachers developed a greater capacity for reflection in their first year of teaching, but even then their responses were generally descriptive in nature rather than demonstrating critical reflection. We suggest some reasons for this.
Ljungdahl, L. & Prescott, A.E. 2007, 'Teachers' use of diagnostic testing to enhance students' literacy and numeracy learning', The International Journal of Learning, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 461-476.
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The importance of literacy and numeracy skills is paramount in most societies, their acquisition essential for communication and employment. This study set out to determine whether teachers using multiple choice assessment tasks could enhance student learning in literacy and numeracy. A software program that gave the teachers access to the results in terms of preset strands was provided to one group of teachers and the other group used the traditional techniques of looking over the students test papers. It focuses on the testing of students using standardised PAT (Progressive Achievement Test) comprehension and mathematics tests with the intervention of a software tool (AutoMarque) which is intended to expedite analysis of the results. While much research has been carried out on literacy and numeracy testing, relatively little attention has been paid to the significance of speedy feedback and analysis of results which can lead to improved pedagogy. Constructive teacher feedback following assessment tasks assists students learning and provides them with the skills they need to improve performance in subsequent assessments. This study highlighted the difficulties that time-poor teachers have in implementing new technologies despite their commitment to assessment for learning.
Mulligan, J., Prescott, A.E., Mitchelmore, M. & Outhred, L. 2005, 'Taking a closer look at young children's images of area measurement', Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 4-8.
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Hellsten, M. & Prescott, A.E. 2004, 'Learning at University: The international student experience', Flinders University, Institute of International Education, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 344-351.
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This paper reports on research that explores internationalisation of the Universitys curriculum offerings and how this affects international students. The central focus of this paper is to highlight some of the student commentary on communication between teachers and students exemplifying the way it subsequently affects the quality of student learning. The paper concludes by raising some questions concerning how we may best meet the needs of international students by drawing on inclusive teaching philosophies.
Mulligan, J., Prescott, A.E. & Mitchelmore, M. 2003, 'Taking a closer look at students visual imagery', Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 23-27.
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Explores the use of pattern imagery in enhancing the spatial skills of students. Discussion on the concept of spatial structuring; Relationship between numerical and spatial patterns; Tasks that may be provided by teachers to which may help students to become more attuned to the importance of pattern and structure.


Schuck, S.R., Aubusson, P.J., Buchanan, J.D., Louviere, J.J., Burke, P.F. & Prescott, A.E. UTS: CRLC and CENSOC 2012, Retaining effective early career teachers in NSW schools, pp. 1-193, Sydney.
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This project was commissioned by the NSW Department of Education and Training. This four and a half year research project had the aims of tracking a cohort of final year (2005) preservice teacher education students through their post-graduation experience into 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, in order to understand more clearly the reasons why some early career teachers (ECTs) in NSW public schools choose to leave the profession, and why others choose to remain; and in order to develop strategies to increase the retention rate of effective teachers during their early years of teaching.