Issue 9 – September 2016

Welcome to Educational Designer #9

This issue contains six contributions that demonstrate the scope of work in ISDDE. James Calleja provides a thoughtful analysis of what constitutes inquiry-based learning for mathematics and describes how IBL principles have been implemented in continuing professional development in Malta.

Christine Cunningham – winner of the 2014 ISDDE prize – and Cathy Lachapelle describe 14 principles which they have employed to design engineering experiences that engage all students. The principles centre on designing authentic challenges in a real world context, scaffolding students work appropriately and demonstrating that everyone can participate. Brian Drayton and Gilly Puttick have been transforming paper-based materials into electronic form; a common task for educational designers today. They report on how images from paper-based materials might be made ‘smart’ in this transformation.

The article by Yue-Ting Siu draws on her experience of teaching students with visual impairments. She presents two case studies of how to design for all learners, analysed through the lens of universal design. We also include a report written by Sheila Evans and Michal Ayalon from the working group on formative assessment at the 2015 ISDDE conference. They tackled the specific problem of how to help teachers respond better to classroom events that occur ‘in the moment’: to act contingently. The article describes the one approach which they investigated and also sets the working group deliberations within the research literature.

The editorial team hopes that readers will find the short contribution of Frans van Galen and Ronald Keijzer inspiring. They provide a useful description of how the “Big Mathematics Day” is organised in the Netherlands, but they also share their joy in designing a great experience for so many teachers and students.

This issue is the first prepared by our new editorial team, and I thank all of its members for their prompt work, their helpful advice and insight: Dor Abrahamson, Max Stephens and Frans van Galen and especially Sheila Evans as associate editor and Daniel Pead who continues to create and maintain the website. We are privileged to build on the excellent work that has been done by previous editors, most recently Susan McKenney, in establishing the journal and we look forward to continuing to provide a lively and informative record to promote all all aspects of good educational design. I hope that you find many of the contributions in this issue valuable for your work.

Kaye Stacey
Editor in Chief

Teaching Mathematics through Inquiry: A Continuing Professional Development Programme Design

James Calleja

Over the past decade, European policy makers have promoted the use of inquiry-based learning (IBL) approaches in mathematics and science. This paper describes one attempt to design an effective, replicable continuing professional development (CPD) programme that challenges the transmissive practices of teachers and that brings to awareness the pedagogical strategies required for effective IBL. This paper starts by examining IBL and then presents four features for enacting IBL in class. I will show how these four features were used as design principles for the programme – Teaching Mathematics through Inquiry (TMI) – for secondary mathematics teachers in Malta. Finally, the paper exposes the challenges faced when designing and piloting the programme. I illustrate design foundations with examples of products from the pilot project to discuss modifications and reflect on lessons learned.

Calleja, J. (2016) Teaching Mathematics Through Inquiry. Educational Designer, 3(9).
Retrieved from:

Designing Engineering Experiences to Engage All Students

Christine M. Cunningham and Cathy P. Lachapelle

New academic standards at the state and national level in the U.S. A. call for integrating engineering into K–12 education. As designers develop curricula to meet this new need, we must ensure that engineering instruction is inviting and engaging for all students, particularly those from populations that are underserved, underperforming, or underrepresented in STEM fields. Starting with the explicit goal of fostering equity, we designed an engineering curriculum for grades 1 - 5. In this paper we articulate the set of 14 inclusive design principles that guided the development of the Engineering is Elementary (EiE) curriculum, link them to relevant literature, provide examples of how they influenced our design decisions, and describe classroom outcomes.

Cunningham, M., Lachapelle, C.P. (2016) Designing Engineering Experiences to Engage All Students. Educational Designer, 3(9).
Retrieved from:

Digital Design of Smart Images: A design story

Brian Drayton and Gillian Puttick

This paper describes a sequence of design decisions made while transforming a high-school capstone course from print to electronic form. Because complex images used as data for student investigations were central to the curriculum, the project sought to make use of affordances of the digital environment to scaffold students' interpretation of these data. Several technical strategies were prototyped, and their strengths and weaknesses explored in teaching experiments in which students were asked to use the tools to solve problems from the curriculum, and talk about their process. Our work with visuals as data for inquiry suggests that the 'syntax' of practice, and the 'substance' of core disciplinary ideas, are not sufficient for students to fully engage with images that constitute complex data requiring interpretation. In addition, a considerable amount of information about phenomena and settings is necessary, with the substance constituting the semantics of the problem space. Thus, we came to see that our scaffolding model was not adequate to the aims of the curriculum we were designing.

Drayton, B., Puttick, G. (2016) Digital Design of Smart Images. Educational Designer, 3(9).
Retrieved from:

Can designed student responses support teachers to interact with students in a productive way?

A report from the Formative Assessment Working Group (2015 ISDDE conference)

Sheila Evans and Michal Ayalon

This paper introduces the use of pre-designed student responses to unstructured mathematics problems as a possible resource for teachers to develop their capacity of acting contingently in the mathematics classroom in a productive way, whilst teaching. We frame our argument around the notion that contingent moments can be regarded as problem-situations that are, at times, too demanding for the teacher to effectively solve. We provide an unstructured mathematics problem and accompanying designed student responses to illustrate and explain our thinking, considering how this approach has the potential to help teachers flexibly and productively engage with students’ reasoning in-the-moment of instruction. We end the paper with a call for empirical studies to explore these ideas further.

Designing For All Learners With Technology: Two design approaches from an accessibility and practitioner’s perspective

Yue-Ting Siu

Educational products are increasingly developed for online learning and to leverage technology for immersive experiences. Applications and areas of instruction that are highly visual (such as science, technology, engineering, and math) often take advantage of multisensory approaches to deliver interactive learning media but can quickly become exclusive rather than inclusive in the digital environment. This paper discusses the challenges and affordances of digital media and how to embed principles of accessibility in the universal design of instructional materials. Two case studies highlight designers who have developed cutting edge learning experiences that include equitable access to science, technology, engineering, and math. Their perspectives in designing for rich experiences include concepts that impact good design and meaningful instruction for learners of all abilities.

Designing a Mathematics Day

Frans van Galen and Ronald Keijzer

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A group of designers share their enjoyment of designing and testing materials for the annual Big Mathematics Day, which is organized for primary schools in the Netherlands. The aim is that students and teachers get engaged in a day full of new and exciting mathematical experiences. In 2015, the theme was 'geometry and art' and the authors describe some examples of the activities. The materials for that year and earlier years can be accessed on the internet.

ISSN 1759-1325