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World Class Maths: Asian Teaching Methods

Macmillan Education via FutureLearn

This course may be unavailable.


Develop your understanding of Asian teaching methods

Every four years, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) compares different countries’ approaches to teaching. Typically, many East Asian countries score very well in these assessments.

On this four-week course from Macmillan Education and the University of Southampton, you’ll be introduced to Asian maths teaching methods for primary education, delve into the key features of Asian education, and discover what makes their methods so successful.

Explore teaching principles from Singapore and Shanghai and apply these to your own practice

Singapore performs very well in maths when compared to international standards. Part of this is due to their unique methods of teaching mathematical skills and concepts.

You’ll look at two of the most effective teaching principles from Singapore: the Concrete Pictorial Abstract approach and the Bar Model method. Then, you’ll discuss how you can apply these principles to your own teaching practice.

Discover Variation theory and other Asian teaching methods

Aside from Singapore, there are many other Asian countries that perform well in international comparisons thanks to their unique teaching principles.

This course will guide you through two more effective principles used in Asian teaching: Two Basics and Variation theory, both from mainland China.

Build systems to improve the professional development of teachers

High-performing countries typically have well-organised support structures and facilities, allowing teachers to successfully utilise their key teaching principles.

During the final week of this course, you’ll explore how these countries build their education systems around the professional development of teachers, and how you can best utilise the methods used in Asian maths education for your own teaching.

This course is designed for primary school teachers, school administrators, and education policymakers. It may also be of interest to parents with children at primary school.


  • Setting the scene
    • Introduction
    • International context
    • Engaging with the TIMSS data
    • Introducing Asian maths pedagogy
    • What next?
  • Maths principles from Singapore
    • Introduction for Week 2
    • Presenting the Concrete Pictorial Abstract approach
    • Presenting the Singapore Bar Model method
    • What next?
  • Other Asian principles
    • Introduction for Week 3
    • Presenting the Two Basics
    • Presenting Variation theory
    • What next?
  • Applying Asian maths education principles in your own teaching
    • Introduction for Week 4
    • How practice makes perfect
    • The case of Singapore, Shanghai and Japan in maths education professional development
    • What now?

Taught by

Lianghuo Fan


4.6 rating at FutureLearn based on 59 ratings

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