Dr Helen Middleton
BSC(Hons), Phd (UWA)

Lecturer, Teaching Scholar, Mathematics and Statistics

About me

As a scholarly teaching fellow in Mathematics and Statistics I am interested in issues related to the provision of high quality teaching using blended learning methods and other innovative approaches  to learning for our students.

I am currently teaching a large first year transition unit for science students and an introductory service unit in statistics here and coordinating its offerings through Murdoch University’s transnational partners.   With over 25 years experience in mathematics education at both secondary and tertiary level, I have taught and developed a wide range of mathematics courses for students in education, business, nursing, science, mathematics and statistics. I also spent five years in university research management at The University of Notre Dame Australia.

Teaching area

Unit Coordinator MAS180 Introduction to Statistics, 2008 to 2016.

This unit provides an introduction to statistical techniques used to collect, summarise, interpret and present numerical information, with particular emphasis on applications from commerce, economics and the social sciences. It is offered here at Murdoch, as well as in external mode at our partner institution in Dubai.

Joint Unit Coordinator BSC100 Building Blocks for Science Students 2014-6

This unit provides skills to science students to assist in their transition into university studies. These skills include critical thinking and writing, numeracy, working with data and mathematical models, scientific methods and report writing, referencing and working with different forms of scientific communications.

I have also taught in a variety of other mathematics and statistics units at Murdoch University and The University of Notre Dame Australia.

Research areas

  • Operator algebras in Hilbert space
  • Teaching and Learning issues related to preparing university students for their studies and transition into university
  • Internationalisation in higher education and of the curriculum
  • First Year  teaching  and learning in Mathematics and Statistics

 

Current projects

  •  Maths Diagnostic Quiz

The Maths Diagnostic Quiz was developed late in in 2010 (and first implemented at Murdoch University in Semester 1, 2011)  by Doug Fletcher and myself for students enrolling in Part I units which contained significant mathematical content. It was linked to tailored modules on a variety of mathematical topics in a new Bridging Maths Program run by  Marian Kemp and Helen Cole of the Student Learning Centre in Orientation Week.

The Quiz is available through the Learning Management System and is now in its 11th iteration. It reaches over 2000 students in 12 units across the university, including units in Physics, Chemistry, Psychology, Biological and Life Sciences, Chiropractic and Exercise Science, as well as those in Mathematics and Statistics.

A review of the effectiveness of this Quiz in assisting the preparedness of Murdoch students for the mathematical content of these units is important and is an on-going project. A conference presentation was made on the Maths Diagnostic Quiz in 2011.

  • Internationalisation Case Study

In 2011 I took part in a Murdoch University project which built on the Australian Learning and Teaching Council project Finding Common Ground: Enhancing Interaction Between Domestic and International Students (Arkoudis, et al., 2010). This involved seven academics from across the university, each of whom tried to use the Interaction for Learning Framework to facilitate increased opportunities for international students to interact with domestic students while engaging in learning tasks relevant to their units of study. I was one of five of these academics who presented their work at a NEST forum late in 2011 and also at a Teaching and Learning Forum in 2012. My work has been written up as a brief case study and, along with those of other project members, is available through the Curriculum Development Unit website at Murdoch University.

A journal article on this case study was published in the International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education in 2014.

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  • Narratives for unit-course-subject coordinators by fellow travellers

This project built on the outcomes of a previous ALTC project, Clarifying, developing and valuing the role of Unit Coordinators as leaders of learning in higher education, which sought to more clearly define the role responsibilities and the attributes needed by Unit Coordinators to effectively ‘lead’ learning. For this Murdoch project (through an extension grant from the ALTC) it was decided to create a website for exclusive use by Coordinators that contained 60 – 70 narratives and 3 or 4 short video clips that address the challenges and issues identified by their fellow travellers. I was interviewed for this project in 2012 and appear on the website.

  • First Year in Maths

First Year in Maths (FYiMaths) is a project funded by the Office of Learning and Teaching from 2012-2014 in the priority area of disciplinary and cross-disciplinary leadership. This project aims to establish a network and online resources to support academics teaching and coordinating in first-year mathematics.  In November 2013 I was one of about 30 academics interviewed as part of this project. In February 2014 I attended the FYiMaths forum at the University of Sydney which focused on the impact of assumed knowledge entry requirements for science degrees; and the Continuity and Connections Conference: Mathematics from school to university in Canberra in December 2014. In 2015 I gave a presentation on transition unit activities at the local FYiMaths Perth group.

  • Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education

This national conference on the theme of “Transforming practice: Inspiring innovation” was held in Perth in 30 September to 2 October 2015, based at Curtin University. As members of the organising committee from Murdoch University, Damian Laird and I were able to bring the final day of the ACSME conference, Discipline Day, to Murdoch. Workshops in the different science discipline areas of  chemistry, biological science, physics, mathematics and statistics were held on campus.

Awards and grants

  •  SEIT Equipment Grant

I applied for a grant to supply and fit multiple new whiteboards into tutorial rooms in the Mathematics and Statistics teaching area. The award of $5000 from School of Engineering and Information Technology was announced on 7 August 2015.  

Tutorial rooms with walls of whiteboards have been used for student-centred activities by the Mathematics Department at La Trobe University since the 1970s and this innovation has been taken up with success at The University of Melbourne and The University of Sydney. SEIT staff in Mathematics and Statistics now have the opportunity to “flip” their teaching style and introduce more active tutorial participation for our students. First year students in particular may benefit from this initiative.

A meeting of the staff of Mathematics and Statistics was held on 6 November 2015 to discuss current tutorial teaching styles and to explore how these rooms with walls of whiteboards could be used to develop new student-centred tutorial formats and teaching methods.

  •  SEIT Outreach Grant

A successful application was made in September 2016  for funding to support an outreach activity in Mathematics, Physics and Biology for lower secondary school students. The activity entitled  ’Discovering Maths and Science’ in Australia will engage students with science in the natural world, using their senses and spatial awareness to build scientific observational capabilities. This is a collaborative project between staff of the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre and the School of Engineering and Information Technology.

 

 

Events and speaking engagements

  • Rio Tinto-Murdoch University “Be a Metallurgist for a Day” Program; “Mathematics and Statistics in Mining”, June  2012, June - July 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. Scheduled for June-July 2017.
  • Western Australia Science and Engineering Summer School, “Mathematics and Statistics in Mining”,17 January 2013 and 16 January 2014
  • “Statistics in Context” professional development for ATAR mathematics teachers event at Murdoch University, 8 November 2016.

Professional and community service

  • Mathematicians in Schools Project  2010 – 2016

I have worked with Year 6 and 7 student groups in Yangebup Primary School and Year 2-4 students at Beaconsfield Primary School, and with Years 4,  6 and 7 students at Caladenia Primary School  (2012 – 2015) as part of the CSIRO Mathematicians in Schools project. In 2015 Leeming Senior High School came on board and I have enjoyed my interactions with Years 8 and 9 students there.

This follows on from my experience in developing and teaching the Mathematics Enrichment Programme for Professor Barry Down at the Centre for Learning Change and Development at the Rockingham Campus of Murdoch University. This was for gifted Year 10 and 11 students from Rockingham, Kwinana, Safety Bay and Warnbro Senior High Schools, with 10 sessions held in both first and second semesters in 2006-7.

  • 2009-2012     Member School Board, School of Chemical and Mathematical Sciences, Murdoch University. Member Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee.
  • School Board Member for Seton Catholic College, Samson from 2000. School Board Chair 2009 – 2011.

Publications

Journals

  • Middleton, H., (2014), Strategies in an Introductory Statistics Unit to Promote Interaction between Local and International Students, International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 22, 6, pages 11 - 21.
  • Middleton, H.K. (1988). On the reflexivity and transitivity of non-distributive subspace lattices. Doctoral thesis, University of Western Australia.
  •  Kemp, M., Fletcher, D. and Middleton, H. (2011).  Encouraging preparedness for first-year subjects involving quantitative concepts and skills.  14th Pacific     Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference submission – Design for student success. Fremantle 29 June -1 July 2011.   (Conference presentation by D. Fletcher and H. Middleton.) Available at http://www.fyhe.com.au/past_papers/papers11/FYHE-2011/content/pdf/6A.pdf
  •  Whitsed. C., Richardson, I., Gothard, J., Hobson. J., Middleton. H., Paull. M. (2012). Being on common ground: Facilitating increased cross-cultural interactions in diverse learning contexts. Teaching and Learning Forum. Murdoch University 2 & 3 February.
  •  Middleton, H.K. (2014). Strategies in an introductory statistics unit to promote interaction between local and international students. IJISME, 22(6), 11 – 21. Available at http://openjournals.library.usyd.edu.au/index.php/CAL/article/view/7395
  • Middleton, H. (2016). Are you ready to play the science game? Melding maths skills for transition into university science. Students, Transitions, Achievement, Retention & Success (STARS) conference. Perth 29 June-2 July. Available at  http://unistars.org/papers/STARS2016/08B.pdf