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  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Online Unscheduled
  • Semester 2Online Unscheduled



Unit rationale, description and aim

The role of mathematics in STEM Education is widely accepted as key given it underpins other disciplines — Science, Technology and Engineering. Mathematics is an enabler of critical thinking and problem-solving capability within the STEM disciplines – seen as vital in responding to disruptive phenomena such as COVID-19. Further, mathematics is essential for navigating an increasingly data-driven world in which mathematics-based critical thinking is vital for informed citizenship.

In this unit, students will develop a research-informed understanding of the role of critical thinking in mathematics when addressing real-world problems — a key aspect of numeracy. Responses to problems must consider a mathematical solution as well as the consequences of that solution, including equity issues. Mathematical models are important for solving real-world problems. This includes the modelling of data, and more recently big data. Numerate citizens must be able to evaluate claims and findings based on the analysis of data. These capabilities can be developed by adopting evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning mathematics within STEM contexts.

The aim of this unit is to develop participants’ understanding of pedagogical approaches to critical numeracy, including the principles of teaching and learning that support the application of mathematical/statistical modelling to problems within real-world contexts.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Understand and analyse the advantages and challenges associated with applying critical thinking in mathematics within STEM contexts.GC7, GC9
LO2Develop the capacity to use mathematical modelling to solve real-world problems.GC2, GC8
LO3Critically evaluate and design modelling tasks based on authentic data within a STEM context.GC3, GC12
LO4Synthesise and communicate research-informed pedagogical approaches to teaching mathematics within STEM contexts.GC10, GC11

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Highly Accomplished

In connection to the learning outcomes, on successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should have developed the following industry specific knowledge based on the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Highly Accomplished standards:

Industry StandardRelating toRelevant Learning Outcome

Support colleagues using current and comprehensive knowledge of content and teaching strategies to develop and implement engaging learning and teaching programs.


Exhibit innovative practice in the selection and organisation of content and delivery of learning and teaching programs.


Support colleagues to select and apply effective teaching strategies to develop knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.

LO1, LO2, LO3

Assist colleagues to create, select and use a wide range of resources, including ICT, to engage students in their learning.

LO1, LO2, LO4

Work with colleagues to review current teaching and learning programs using student feedback, student assessment data, knowledge of curriculum and workplace practices. 

LO1, LO3

Initiate and engage in professional discussions with colleagues in a range of forums to evaluate practice directed at improving professional knowledge and practice, and the educational outcomes of students.


Engage with colleagues to evaluate the effectiveness of teacher professional learning activities to address student learning needs.


Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Lead

In connection to the learning outcomes, on successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should have developed the following industry specific knowledge based on the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Lead standards:

Industry StandardRelating toRelevant Learning Outcome
APST(Lead)2.1Lead initiatives within the school to evaluate and improve knowledge of content and teaching strategies and demonstrate exemplary teaching of subjects using effective, research-based learning and teaching programs.LO4
APST(Lead)2.2Lead initiatives that utilise comprehensive content knowledge to improve the selection and sequencing of content into coherently organised learning and teaching programs.LO1
APST(Lead)3.3Work with colleagues to review, modify and expand their repertoire of teaching strategies to enable students to use knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinkingLO1, LO2, LO3
APST(Lead)3.4Model exemplary skills and lead colleagues in selecting, creating and evaluating resources, including ICT, for application by teachers within or beyond the school.LO1, LO2, LO4
APST(Lead)3.6Conduct regular reviews of teaching and learning programs using multiple sources of evidence including: student assessment data, curriculum documents, teaching practices and feedback from parents/carers, students and colleagues.LO1, LO3
APST(Lead)6.3Implement professional dialogue within the school or professional learning network(s) that is informed by feedback, analysis of current research and practice to improve the educational outcomes of students.LO2
APST(Lead)6.4Advocate, participate in and lead strategies to support high-quality professional learning opportunities for colleagues that focus on improved student learning.LO4


Topics will include:

MODULE 1 — Critical thinking in mathematics: its role in STEM education

·      Current influences on the mathematics curriculum

·      The role of critical thinking in mathematics and its connections to STEM

·      Mathematics and STEM in the Australian Curriculum

·      The role of mathematics in STEM and critical citizenship

·      First Nations peoples and STEM


MODULE 2 — Using mathematics to solve real-world problems within STEM contexts

·      Mathematical modelling and numeracy across the curriculum

·      Designing and implementing tasks related to applying mathematics to STEM contexts

·      The role of digital resources for applying mathematics to the real world

MODULE 3 — Analysing and interpreting authentic data

·      Availability and accessibility of authentic data sets

·      Analysing authentic data sets

·      Evaluating findings or claims in authentic data


MODULE 4 — Planning, teaching and learning for mathematics in STEM contexts

·      Evidence-based practices for mathematics in STEM teaching and learning

·      Adopting inclusive pedagogies for teaching and learning mathematics in stem contexts

·      Assessing capability for applying mathematics in STEM contexts


Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In this unit, students will be taught via a range of online asynchronous approaches. They will engage in lectures and activities where reflective practices will be encouraged. During these sessions, students will obtain knowledge and understanding and develop new ways to teach mathematics through critical thinking and the application of mathematical modelling.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks are used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate capabilities and professional standards and criteria consistent with University assessment requirements.

Students will need to complete two assessment tasks. A series of quizzes to assess the content in the first two modules and the development of a mathematical modelling task to assess modules 3 and 4. These tasks will ascertain the extent to which graduates achieve stated outcomes. In order to pass this unit, students are required to pass each assessment task.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate CapabilitiesStandards

Assessment Task 1: Quizzes

Undertake short answer responses that demonstrate knowledge and understanding of content from Modules 1 to 2:

  • critical thinking in mathematics
  •  using mathematics to solve real-world problems


LO1, LO2, LO4GC2, GC7, GC8, GC9APST(HA)2.1, APST(HA)2.2, APST(HA)3.3, APST(HA)3.4, APST(HA)3.6, APST(HA)6.3, APST(Lead)2.2, APST(Lead)3.3, APST(Lead)3.4, APST(Lead)3.6, APST(Lead)6.3

Assessment Task 2: Mathematical modelling task

Design a mathematical modelling task that makes use of large data sets to inform decision-making about an issue that has social consequences. Provide guidelines to explain how the task will be implemented in an authentic classroom setting where the classroom environment is described. The format must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the interpretation & evaluation of findings or claims in authentic data
  • aligning pedagogies for teaching and learning mathematics in STEM contexts
  • critical thinking in mathematics, including a description of broader societal impacts of the potential solution Include an evaluation of this task in terms of the alignment with the ideas and pedagogies for teaching and learning mathematics in STEM contexts which have been addressed in this course.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4GC3, GC10, GC11, GC12APST(HA)2.1, APST(HA)2.2, APST(HA)3.3, APST(HA)3.4, APST(HA)3.6, APST(HA)6.3, APST(HA)6.4, APST(Lead)2.1, APST(Lead)2.2, APST(Lead)3.3, APST(Lead)6.4

Representative texts and references

Beswick, K., & Fraser, S. (2019). Developing mathematics teachers’ 21st century competence for teaching in STEM contexts. ZDM.

English, L. (2023). Multidisciplinary modelling in a sixth-grade tsunami investigation. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. 21, 41–65.

Gal, I., & Geiger, V. (2022). Welcome to the era of vague news: Mathematics, statistics, evidence literacy, and the Coronavirus pandemic media. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 111(1), 5–28.

Geiger, V. (2019). Using mathematics as evidence supporting critical reasoning and enquiry in primary science classrooms. ZDMMathematics Education, 51(7), 929-940.

Geiger, V., Beswick, K.., Fraser, S., & Holland‐Twining, B. (2023). A model for principals’ STEM leadership capability. British Educational Research Journal.

Geiger, V., Galbraith, P., Niss, M., & Delzoppo, C. (2022). Developing a task design and implementation framework for fostering mathematical modelling competencies. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 109, 313-336.

Goos, M., Geiger, V., & Dole, S. (2014). Transforming professional practice in numeracy teaching. In Y. Li, E. Silver, & S. Li (Eds.), Transforming mathematics instruction. Advances in Mathematics Education (pp. 81-102). Springer.

Maass, K., Geiger, V., Ariza, M. R., & Goos, M. (2019). The role of mathematics in interdisciplinary STEM education. ZDM Mathematics Education, 51(7), 869-884.

Maass, K.,  Zehetmeier, S., Weihberger, A., & Flösser, K. (2022). Analysing mathematical modelling tasks in light of citizenship education using the COVID-19 pandemic as a case study. ZDM Mathematics Education, 55(1), 133–145.

Lines of Inquiry in Mathematical Modelling Research in Education. (2019). In G. A. Stillman & J. P. Brown (Eds.), ICME-13 Monographs. Springer International Publishing.

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