Visual representations in the primary classroom

Knowing how to use external representations (e.g. diagrams) of mathematical concepts is an important part of teachers’ specialized knowledge of the subject.

The project aimed to develop teachers’ use of visual representations, specifically for multiplication and fractions, two areas of difficulty for primary pupils.

It involved eight primary mathematics coordinators who, with input from researchers, planned and implemented a teaching programme using visual representations of multiplication/fractions.

The impact of the teaching programme was measured through pupil tests, observations of teaching, interviews with teachers and interviews with pupils.

Direct outcomes of the project are the development and evaluation of teaching programmes for the primary classroom utilising visual representations of multiplication and fractions.

Broader outcomes include professional development for the teachers involved and the dissemination of findings to teachers throughout the UK through professional publications and the NCETM website.

Project details



Dr Patrick Barmby, Dr David Bolden and Stephanie Raine, Durham University; Lynn Thompson, North East School Support; Dr Rosemary Cann and Dr Stephen Atherton, Aberystwyth University

Funding programme


Grant amount and duration


1 May 2011 - 31 July 2012