Skip main navigation

General features of Asian maths pedagogy

In this section we introduce general features of Asian maths pedagogy, as preparation for the next two weeks.

In this video, we introduce the general features of Asian maths pedagogy, in particular Singapore and Shanghai teaching approaches, as preparation for the next two weeks. In those weeks we will present the features in more detail.

The overall key feature of Singapore classroom is Teaching-to-Mastery. In general terms, this is demonstrated by an emphasis on ‘procedural/how to’ followed by ‘factual/rote/basic’ knowledge, which are fundamental in students further study in mathematics. Furthermore, more teacher-centred approaches, reinforced through exercises, are combined with more student-centred approaches. Two more mathematics-specific teaching approaches are often used in the Singapore mastery approach, the Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach and the Bar Model method.

Many of these features can also be recognised in the 11 key features of Shanghai mathematics classrooms. These features:

  1. Usually start with mathematics questions, often contextualized or stimulating, to motivate students.
  2. Adopt whole-class teaching, supplemented with small group or individual learning activities.
  3. In a mathematical sense, emphasise the ‘Two Basics’ (basic knowledge and basic skills) and thorough understanding (mastery) of concepts.
  4. Emphasise the development of students’ high-order thinking, in particular through open-ended problems and application (real-life) problems.
  5. Emphasise teacher-student interaction and students’ academic engagement.
  6. Adopt teaching with variation (both conceptual and procedural).
  7. Assign daily homework for formative assessment and reinforcement purposes.
  8. Provide timely feedback and remediation to students in need.
  9. Provide a summary of what was learned at the end of a lesson.
  10. Deliver lesson with clear structure and coherence.
  11. Heavily rely on textbooks and other teaching and learning resources.

The video finishes with a framework for lesson structure in Shanghai mathematics classes.

This article is from the free online

World Class Maths: Asian Teaching Methods

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now