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Steven Watson


University Lecturer in Mathematics Education

Fellow of Wolfson College and Director of Studies for Education

E-mail Address


+ 44 (0) 1223 767584

For the latest on my research and thinking see


  • PhD (University of Nottingham)
  • MA ERM - Educational research methods (University of Nottingham)
  • MEd (Open University)
  • PGCE Secondary Mathematics (University of Sheffield)
  • MA Chemical Engineering (University of Cambridge)

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics (BSRLM), membership secretary
  • British Education Research Association (BERA)
  • European Society for Research in Mathematics Education (ERME)

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Steve Watson taught mathematics and was head of department in secondary schools in North East Lincolnshire. Before becoming a teacher he worked as a telecommunications engineer.

As a teacher, Steve became interested in supporting the learning of disaffected and disengaged learners of mathematics. This led to teacher research in inquiry-based learning, problem-solving, student-centred approaches and teachers’ continuing professional development. He carried out research projects funded by the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM). He also organised local networks and worked with regional networks in collaboration with the NCETM.

In 2010 he joined the Centre for Research in Mathematics Education and the Shell Centre for Mathematics Education at the University of Nottingham in a full-time research role investigating the nature of teachers’ professional learning in the context of student-centred problem-solving and inquiry-based learning. In that time he was involved in other large research projects in professional development and design-based research including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded Mathematics Assessment Project in the United States as well as a European funded project on inquiry-based learning.

His interests include the design and development of professional development and design of research and evaluation approaches to professional learning and in particular the observation and analysis of teaching. He is also interested in the challenges of theorising professional learning and has used Social Cognitive Theory in the context of professional development.

His recent research is concerned with the sociology and political economy of teacher education.

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Research Interests

Under construction

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Course involvement

  • PGCE Secondary mathematics
  • MEd/ MPhil Mathematics Education, Researching Practice
  • EdD/ PhD Supervision
  • PPD Practitioner Professional Development Teaching Advanced Mathematics (TAM) programme

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Principal and Recent Publications

Journal Articles

Major, L., & Watson. S. (2017). Using video to support in-service teacher professional development: a systematic scoping study. Technology, Pedagogy and Education

Book Chapters

Watson, S., & Dawes, M. (2016). Learning mathematics: a cognitive focus. In S. Johnston-Wilder, C. Lee, & D. Pimm (Eds.), Learning to teach mathematics in the secondary school: a companion to school experience (4th ed.) (pp. 32-51). Routledge: London

Watson, S., & Crawford, M. (2016). Connecting leadership, professional development and affect. In B. Apelgren, P. Burnard, & N. Carbaroglu (Eds.), Transformative teacher research: theory and practice for the twenty-first century (pp. 73-86). Sense Publishers.

Book Reviews

Watson, S. (2016). Review of the book Algebra teaching around the world, edited by Frederick K.S. Leung, Kyungmee Park, Derek Holton and David Clarke, Rotterdam, Sense Publishers. Research in Mathematics Education, 18(2), 211–214.

Conference Papers

Major, L., Watson, S., & Kimber, E. (2016). Teacher change in post-16 mathematics: a multiple case analysis of teachers in the Zone of Enactment. Presented at the 13th International Congress on Mathematics (ICME-13), Hamburg, July 2016.

Major, L., Watson, S., & Kimber, E. (2015). Developing instructional and pedagogical design for the Cambridge Mathematics Education Project: A Design-based research approach. In Adams, G. (Ed.) Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics (BSLRM) 35(2). BSRLM Day Conference, University of Durham.

Watson, S. (2014). The impact of professional development on the teaching of problem-solving. Proceedings of the 8th British Congress on Mathematics Education. University of Nottingham.

Nardi, E., Biza, I. & Watson S. (2014). What makes a claim an acceptable mathematical argument in the secondary classroom? A preliminary analysis of teachers’ warrants in the context of an Algebra Task. Proceedings of the 8th British Congress on Mathematics Education. University of Nottingham.

Watson, S. (2013). Understanding mathematics teachers’ professional development from the perspective of social learning theory. In: B. Ubuz, C. Haser, & M. A. Mariotti (Eds.), Proceedings of the 8th Congress of European Research in Mathematics Education (CERME-8), Antalya, Turkey  (pp.  3287-3295). Ankara: Turkey

Watson, S. (2012). The effects of professional development on teaching self-efficacy. In: The proceedings of the 12th International Congress of Mathematics Education, Seoul, South Korea.

Watson, S. (2012). Developing teaching efficacy for inquiry-based learning. The Fibonacci Project European Conference Inquiry Based Scienceand Mathematics Education: Bridging the gap between education research and practice, University of Leicester.

Watson, S., & Evans, S. (2012). Observing changes in teachers' practice as a consequence of taking part in professional development: developing a protocol for the observation of lessons In: C. Smith (Ed.), Informal proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning of Mathematics, University of Sussex.

Swan, M. & Watson, S. (2011). Designing professional development for mathematics teachers: A case study. In: Ubuz, B, (Ed.) Proceedings of the 35th Conference of the International Group for Psychology of Mathematics Education, vol 1. p. 414.

Watson, S. (2011). The influence of teaching efficacy and professional life-stage on secondary mathematics teachers' use of problem-solving in their teaching In: C. Smith (Ed.), Informal proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning of Mathematics, University of Oxford.

Textbooks and teaching materials

Steel, T., Thomas, C., Dawes, M., & Watson, S. (2015). GCSE Mathematics for AQA/Edexcel/OCR Higher/Foundation problem-solving book. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Commissioned reports

Haßler, B., Major, L., Warwick, P., Watson, S., Hennessy, S. & Nicholl, B. (2016).
Perspectives on Technology, Resources and Learning: Productive Classroom Practices, Effective Teacher
Professional Development
Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

Haßler, B., Major, L., Warwick, P., Watson, S., Hennessy, S. & Nicholl, B. (2016).
A short guide on the use of Technology for Learning: Perspectives and toolkit for discussion. Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.


Watson, S. (2009). Implementing collaborative planning in the mathematics department of a secondary school. Teacher Enquiry Grant Report for the NCETM.

Professional journals

Tomalin, J., Watson, S., Swan, M., Mason, J. and Watson, A. (2012). Mathematical friends and relations. Mathematics Teaching. 226.

PhD Thesis

Watson, S. (2014). The impact of professional development on mathematics teachers’ beliefs and practices (Unpublished PhD thesis). University of Nottingham.