Teaching and learning

Mr Jennings is an award winning mathematics teacher who teaches into 1st year mathematics. 

Researcher biography

I am interested in students' transition from high school to university mathematics, as well as the teaching and learning of first-year mathematics.

My main research area is the transition from high school to university mathematics. My 25+ years' teaching experience on both sides of the secondary-tertiary transitional fence gives me an excellent understanding of student knowledge, allowing me to focus my teaching on specific, known problem areas such as algebra, calculus and contextual understanding.

I do not just rely on my background knowledge and communication skills, but also take a scholarly approach to generate new knowledge that informs my teaching. I use technology such as UniDoodle to gather data and then design innovative resources that support diverse student cohorts, including the SmartAss self-testing system. In 2015 I was awarded an OLT Award for Teaching Excellence. In 2010 I was awarded an ALTC Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

I have been successful in attracting competitive grant funding for teaching innovations. For example, I led an OLT Extension Grant on diagnostic testing. This grant saw the implementation of a unique diagnostic test system, GetSet, in four Australian universities. In 2008 I was part of a team that was awarded a UQ Teaching and Learning Strategic Grant to design the competency test (that is now GetSet) for first-year engineering students to assess knowledge of high school level mathematics, physics, and chemistry, and also the ability of the students to apply this knowledge. I was also a Chief Investigator on a Carrick Grant that developed a powerful and flexible electronic system called SmartAss that creates unlimited questions accompanied by fully worked solutions. This innovative system has been used with great success over a range of mathematics, science and business courses for the past 15 years. The system is also used in high schools.

I have also led numerous internally funded projects. These projects have developed a comprehensive range of new small-group learning resources for students in core engineering courses to complement a redeveloped student-focused mathematics learning space, an online diagnostic test with automatic correction and feedback to students and staff, numerous study guides for first-year mathematics courses, and a $99,000 Technology Enhanced Learning grant to update and improve SmartAss. All of these teaching innovation grants are aimed at improving students' mathematical understanding along with their first-year experience.

I have been heavily involved in the work of the School's Teaching and Learning Committee that has been responsible for improving the overall quality of teaching within the School. I mentor new staff, providing advice on teaching and assessment design.

I have also been involved in the development and review of the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics, and foster links between high school teachers and university lecturers through my role as Executive Committee Member and Treasurer of the Queensland Association of Mathematics Teachers.

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of the UQ College of Peer Observers, and one of three members of the First Year in Maths National Steering Committee.

In my PhD I continued my research on subject selection and students' mathematical understanding, which has allowed me to further improve my teaching.

Areas of research