Improving mathematics with comparative judgement

The Worshipful Company of Actuaries is to hold a practical workshop for mathematics teachers at the Ri at 5.30pm, 12 October 2015.

  • Maths teacher tie
    Credit: Tim Mitchell


One of the most important goals of learning mathematics is to develop students’ problem solving and thinking skills. Indeed, recent research by Royal Society Research Fellow, Matthew Inglis, funded by the Worshipful Company of Actuaries’ Charitable Trust has confirmed that studying mathematics is associated with greater gains on various reasoning measures compared to those who opt not to study the subject after age 16.

But problem solving and mathematical thinking are not only difficult skills for students to learn but also particularly difficult topics for teachers to assess. You are warmly invited to attend this evening workshop, where the benefits of a mathematical education and a new research-proven approach to assessment and learning mathematical problem solving will be presented and discussed.

The approach, known as comparative judgement, involves no marking and no mark schemes. Instead it is based on teachers’, and even students’, judgements of the quality of one piece of mathematical work compared to another. Despite its apparent subjectivity, comparative judgement is based on a longstanding psychological principle, which means that resulting assessments are reliable, valid and robust.

The real power of comparative judgement is that it enables richer and more open-ended tasks to be used in the classroom, at the same time as permitting reliable assessments of student performance. This can potentially have positive impacts on learning in the classroom, and on students’ conceptions of mathematics as a creative discipline. We believe that comparative judgement is particularly suited to measuring progress across classrooms and schools in the absence of Key Stage Levels.

The specific goals of this event are to:

  • introduce the method of Comparative Judgement;
  • give some examples of how it has been used in mathematics classrooms;
  • discuss how you could use it in your own practice;
  • demonstrate how to use the comparative judgement engine, which is freely available to all UK teachers.

Presenters at the workshop will include:

  • Dr Matthew Inglis, a Royal Society Worshipful Company of Actuaries Research Fellow from Loughborough University, who has published widely on mathematical thinking and reasoning;
  • Dr Ian Jones, a lecturer in mathematics from Loughborough University, whose research interests focus on designing effective mathematical assessment;
  • Dr Chris Wheadon, one of the UK’s leading psychometricians, formerly of AQA, and founder of No More Marking Ltd.

The Worshipful Company of Actuaries is grateful to the Royal Institution for hosting this event and is delighted to be part of a three-year partnership to double the reach of its Mathematics Masterclasses for upper secondary school students in the capital. 

If you would like further information or wish to join us, please contact Bob Cresswell at the Ri on

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