Ellie Darlington

Ellie Darlington

I am a maths education specialist, having completed a BSc in Mathematics and an MSc in Mathematics Education at the University of Warwick, before going on to earn an ESRC-funded MSc in Educational Research Methodology and DPhil in Education from the University of Oxford.

My DPhil focused on the transition between secondary and university maths, specifically looking at the roles of questions and students’ approaches to learning. I carried over some of this work when I joined Cambridge Assessment in 2013, researching the differences between the skills assessed in different post-compulsory maths qualifications. The biggest project I have worked on so far concerned the maths needs of students going on to study STEMM or social science degrees of university, where we surveyed over 4,000 current undergraduates who had taken AS or A Level maths to see how well-prepared they believed they were for the mathematical demands of their degree.

I have also worked on projects outside of maths education, working on a wide range of topic areas including citizenship education, GCSE Geography resource accessibility, A-level History option choices and the needs of non-specialist teachers.

My current research projects concern the use of technology in maths assessment in other jurisdictions, and work to validate and improve the Test of Mathematics for University Admission (TMUA). The TMUA was developed by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing based on some of the ideas in my DPhil research, part of which compared the skills assessed by a range of maths admissions tests.

Whilst at Oxford I rowed in the Women’s Boat Race against Cambridge, and have raced for England at the Home International Regatta. I currently row for Cantabrigian Rowing Club, where I am the women’s captain. I serve on the editorial board of the IMA journal, Teaching Mathematics and its Applications.

Publications

2017

Undergraduate Mathematics students’ views of their pre-university mathematical preparation

Darlington, E. and Bowyer, J. (2017). Undergraduate Mathematics students’ views of their pre-university mathematical preparation. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 24, 2-11.

In response to planned reforms to A levels, undergraduate mathematicians who had taken AS or A level Further Mathematics were surveyed. A total of 928 mathematics undergraduates at 42 British universities responded to an online questionnaire regarding their experiences of A level Mathematics and Further Mathematics, and their mathematical preparedness for undergraduate study. Students’ responses suggest that Further Mathematics is a worthwhile qualification for undergraduate Mathematics applicants to take, in terms of the mathematical background with which it provides students.

Participants described Further Pure Mathematics most favourably of all of the optional strands of study within Further Mathematics, with Statistics and Mechanics receiving positive feedback and Decision Mathematics receiving negative feedback. Participants who were not required to have taken Further Mathematics in order to be accepted onto their university course were generally more enthusiastic about their experience of it and of their perceptions of its usefulness than those who were required to have taken it. This suggests that it would be beneficial for prospective undergraduate mathematicians to study A level Further Mathematics, regardless of whether or not the universities they apply to require it for entry.

Other jurisdictions’ use of technology in Mathematics curricula
Darlington, E. (2017). Cambridge Assessment Research Report. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Assessment.
What is a non-specialist teacher?
Darlington, E. (2017). Presented at the annual conference of the British Educational Research Association, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, 5-7 September 2017.
Coping styles of new undergraduate mathematicians
Darlington, E. (2017). Coping styles of new undergraduate mathematicians. Review of Science, Mathematics and ICT Education 11(1), 5-17.
The Mathematics Needs of Prospective Geography Undergraduates
Darlington, E., and Bowyer, J. (2017). The Mathematics Needs of Prospective Geography Undergraduates. Journal of Research in Social Sciences (JRSS), 5(2), 11-32.
Students’ views of A-level Mathematics as preparation for degree-level economics

Darlington, E. and Bowyer, J. (2017). Students’ views of A-level Mathematics as preparation for degree-level economics. Citizenship, Social and Economics Education, 16(2), 100-116.

The role of ‘extension papers’ in preparation for undergraduate mathematics: students’ views of the MAT, AEA and STEP
Darlington, E. and Bowyer, J. (2017). The role of ‘extension papers’ in preparation for undergraduate mathematics: students’ views of the MAT, AEA and STEP.  Teaching Mathematics and its Applications (ahead of print).
Decision Mathematics as Preparation for Undergraduate Computer Science
Darlington, E. and Bowyer, J. (2017). Decision Mathematics as Preparation for Undergraduate Computer Science. International Journal of Modern Education and Computer Science, 9(4), 1-11.
Mathematical struggles and ensuring success: post-compulsory mathematics as preparation for undergraduate bioscience
Bowyer, J. and Darlington, E. (2017).  Mathematical struggles and ensuring success: post-compulsory mathematics as preparation for undergraduate bioscience.  Journal of Biological Education (ahead of print).

2016

Should I take Further Mathematics? Physics undergraduates' experiences of post-compulsory Mathematics
Bowyer, J. and Darlington, E. (2017). Should I take Further Mathematics? Physics undergraduates' experiences of post-compulsory Mathematics. Physics Education (ahead of print).
Students’ views of, and motivations for, studying A-level Further Mathematics
Darlington, E. and Bowyer, J. (2016) Students’ views of, and motivations for, studying A-level Further Mathematics. MSOR Connections, 15(1), 4-13.
How well does A-level Mathematics prepare students for the mathemetical demand of chemistry degrees?
Darlington, E. and Bowyer, J. (2016). How well does A-level Mathematics prepare students for the mathemetical demand of chemistry degrees?. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 17(4), 1190-1202.
Engineering undergraduates' views of A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics as preparation for their degree
Darlington, E. and Bowyer, J. (2016). Engineering undergraduates' views of A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics as preparation for their degree. Teaching Mathematics and its Applications (ahead of print).
Revisiting the topics taught as part of an OCR History qualification

Dunn, K., Darlington, E. and Benton, T. (2016). Revisiting the topics taught as part of an OCR History qualification. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 22, 2-8.

Given the introduction of a broader range of options in OCR's new A level history specification, this article follows on from a previous analysis of A level History options based on the previous specification for OCR History (Specification A). That research relied on OCR History centres responding to requests for participation in an online survey. However, OCR’s introduction of an online ‘specification creator’ tool for centres has provided quantitative information about the topics which schools intend to teach their students as part of their A level.  As with the previous study, we sought to establish what the common topic choices and combinations are.

Accounting for students' mathematical preparedness for Finance and Business degrees

Darlington, E. and Bowyer, J. (2016). Accounting for students' mathematical preparedness for Finance and Business degrees. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 22, 9-16.

This article concerns the findings of a large-scale study by the authors of the maths needs of over 4,000 prospective undergraduates of STEMM and Social Science degrees. It reports the responses from Business and Finance-related students to an online survey containing questions about the Maths they studied at A-level, how well they perceived the A-level to be as preparation for the mathematical component of their degree, and ways in which they believe A-level Maths could be improved to suit the needs of future prospective undergraduates in their field. Generally, students of Business and Finance-related degrees who had taken A-level Maths were positive about it as preparation for their degree, with Statistics units perceived as the most useful to study if preparing for tertiary Business or Finance.

GCSE Geography teachers' experiences of differentiation in the classroom.
Dunn, K. and Darlington, E. (2016). GCSE Geography teachers' experiences of differentiation in the classroom. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 25(4), 344-357.
Lecturers’ perceptions of students’ mathematical preparedness for STEMM and Social Science degrees
Bowyer, J. and Darlington, E. (2016). Cambridge Assessment Research Report. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Assessment.
The Mathematics needs of prospective Architecture undergraduates

Darlington, E. and Bowyer, J. (2016). The Mathematics needs of prospective Architecture undergraduates. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 21, 11-16.

This article concerns the findings of a large-scale study by the authors of the maths needs of over 4,000 prospective undergraduates of STEMM and Social Science degrees. It reports the responses from Architecture students to an online survey containing questions about the Maths they studied at A-level, how well they perceived the A-level to be as preparation for the mathematical component of their degree, and ways in which they believe A-level Maths could be improved to suit the needs of future prospective undergraduates in their field. Generally, Architecture undergraduates who had taken A-level Maths were positive about it as preparation for their degree, with Mechanics units perceived as the most useful to study if preparing for tertiary Architecture.

2015

The Mathematics Needs of Higher Education.
Darlington, E. (2015). The Mathematics Needs of Higher Education. Sigma Network for Excellence in Mathematics and Statistics Support, 9, (December).
The value of Mathematics: Optimising opportunity in higher education and beyond
Darlington, E. (2015) Paper presented at the AEA-Europe annual conference, Glasgow, Scotland, 4-7 November 2015
An investigation of the motivations underpinning student and teacher topic choice in History qualifications
Child, S., Darlington, E. and Gill, T. (2015). Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) conference, Belfast, 15-17 September 2015
Post-16 Mathematics qualifications: Differences between GCE A level, International A level, Cambridge Pre-U and Scottish examination questions

Darlington, E. (2015). Post-16 Mathematics qualifications: Differences between GCE A level, International A level, Cambridge Pre-U and Scottish examination questions. Research Matters: A Cambridge Assessment publication, 20, 6-12.

This article describes the application of a taxonomy in order to compare and contrast the mathematical skills required to answer examination questions from four different post-16 Mathematics qualifications taken by students both in the UK and overseas: A levels and Advanced Subsidiary (AS) levels, International A and AS levels, Cambridge Pre-U, and Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers. Though the precise content and structure of the different qualifications differ slightly, they are all qualifications which should provide students with a sound basis for university study in Mathematics. All UK universities accept these qualifications as prerequisites for their Mathematics courses. It is therefore of interest to establish whether the questions asked in the assessments of these qualifications require the same kinds of mathematical skills. If there are notable differences among the qualifications, this could suggest that there might be corresponding differences in how well prepared students are for studying Mathematics at university.

Students’ perceptions of A-level Further Mathematics as preparation for Mathematics degrees
Darlington, E. (2015) Paper presented at the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics conference, Durham, 6 June 2015
Motivations for case study selection in GCSE Geography
Darlington, E. and Dunn, K. (2015) Motivations for case study selection in GCSE Geography. Teaching Geography, 40(1), 20-21.

2014

Contrasts in mathematical challenges in A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics, and undergraduate mathematics examinations
Darlington, E (2014). ‘Contrasts in mathematical challenges in A-level Mathematics and Further Mathematics, and undergraduate mathematics examinations’. Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, 33(4), 213-229.

Research Matters

Research Matters

Research Matters is our free biannual publication which allows us to share our assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community.