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TEMPEST: Towards Educating Mathematics Professionals Encompassing Science and Technology

TEMPEST is a Commonwealth-funded project that focuses on improving the quality of maths and science education by improving the quality of the professional learning available for teachers of mathematics. The project is led by the University of Tasmania. It is funded for three years (2015-2018). The sustainability of the project will be extended through the provision of free quality professional learning for teachers of mathematics via a purpose-built portal established and managed by the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT).



  • Develop a national framework for quality professional learning (PL) for teachers of mathematics; the quality professional learning framework (QPLF)
  • Improve existing PL programs and resources for teachers of mathematics using the QPLF
  • Up-skill teachers of mathematics by developing tools (such as the QPLF and its evaluation tool) to guide the selection of quality PL and the evaluation of implemented PL
  • Contribute to better student outcomes and an increase in the uptake of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses at university, through the improvement of PL teachers' access to quality PL


The project outcomes are the:

  • establishment of a quality PL framework and associated tools, for teachers of mathematics
  • establishment of Implementation Officers in each state/territory to assist in the implementation of quality PL
  • national trialling of quality PL programs and resources
  • provision of free quality PL programs and resources via the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT) online portal

Overview of the project

TEMPEST arose because professionals in the field of mathematics education recognised the ad hoc and arbitrary nature of professional learning for teachers of mathematics. Teachers of mathematics can access a huge range of resources and PL online and face to face, but other than what might happen at a local school, or jurisdictional level there is no systematic approach. A range of conditions needs to be met for PL to be effective regardless of the quality of the content of the PL. The systematic approach developed and being implemented by TEMPEST includes:

  • The development, piloting and current implementation of a framework to identify quality PL (the QPLF)
  • The development and trialling of an evaluation tool that seeks to identify any correlation between identified learning outcomes in the PL and measured improvement of teacher practice and / or student outcomes.

To do this TEMPEST contributes practically by:

  • making quality PL for the teaching of mathematics available through the employment of five implementation officers across all states and territories,

and theoretically by:

  • conducting research and measuring the impact of quality PL on both teachers and students, and
  • contribution to ongoing discussion and research


  • An audit of PL for the teaching of mathematics currently available (2015-2016)
  • AARE 2016 national conference research paper
  • Survey of the characteristics of quality PL
  • Interviews with “experts in the field” on the characteristics of quality PL
  • Ethical approval from the University of Tasmania’s human research ethics committee (HREC) and from each state and the ACT
  • The design of the QPLF
  • The QPLF evaluation tool
  • PCK specific teacher surveys relating to PL for decimals, algebra, inquiry learning
  • The employment of implementation officers in each state/territory
  • Collection of data using:
    • The QPLF
    • The QPLF evaluation

Implementation Officers

Governance, Structure and Accountability

Follow the link below for information including Project Partners and the Project Management and Advisory Groups:

Participating in professional learning (PL) is key to remaining an effective teacher, and currently there is a myriad of PL available to teachers of mathematics. TEMPEST represents the first attempt to establish a national systematic process for the selection of mathematics PL that is appropriate to need. The TEMPEST project team have developed a range of tools including:

  • The quality professional learning framework (QPLF)
  • The TEMPEST PL evaluation tool
  • Pre and post-professional learning (PL) teacher and student surveys

The Quality Professional Learning Framework (QPLF) [PDF 228KB]

The TEMPEST quality professional learning framework (QPLF) is a tool specifically designed to assist in the identification and planning of quality PL for the teaching of mathematics. Whilst “quality” is a value-laden term, the purpose of the QPLF is not to “grade” PL, rather it provides a series of questions that should help the planner of mathematics PL to decide whether the PL is relevant and appropriate. The questions incorporated in the QPLF tool address the following nine components that are recognised as contributing to effective PL:

  • a shared purpose
  • identifiable learning outcomes
  • facilitation of ownership by participants
  • underpinned by best practice
  • connects to the participant’s educational context
  • is sustainable
  • connects theory to practice
  • addresses both individual learning needs and contributes to the development of a community of practice
  • includes an evaluation that is linked to its’ learning outcomes

The “quality” of the PL is enhanced through the process of applying the framework during the planning phase to determine whether the PL is fit for purpose in meeting participant needs.

How was the QPLF developed?

The QPLF was developed iteratively by the project team in collaboration with a workshop of experts in the field of mathematics education. Its intellectual foundations include the Marble project (Watson, 2012) and Killion’s (Killion, 2002) Eight Steps.

The PL evaluation tool

We have all experienced PL evaluation instruments that ask you about the venue, the food and whether you enjoyed the workshop/training/event. The TEMPEST evaluation tool has been developed to align with the QPLF, and seeks to dig deeper and investigate the relationship between the identified learning outcomes of the PL (if any), and whether participants feel that these learning outcomes have been achieved by the conclusion of the PL. Because the evaluation tool identifies learning outcomes and whether these are met, this tool should provide rich data that will be able to inform the future design and implementation of PL for the teaching of mathematics.

As a national project,TEMPEST will be using this tool to collect data from a wide variety of participants of PL events over an extended period. The project team anticipates being able to link responses to PL events and analyse the data accordingly.

The teacher and student surveys

One of the TEMPEST project deliverables is to determine the impact PL has on teacher beliefs and understandings as well as students’ experience of learning mathematics. One way to do this is to assess teacher beliefs and understandings through their completion of a survey prior to undertaking PL and again after the PL has ended. Similarly, we seek to survey students’ experience of learning mathematics before and after their teacher has undertaken mathematics PL. Measuring impact on student learning is notoriously difficult as so many variables are involved. TEMPEST will measure their experience of their mathematics learning environment as a proxy for measuring any changes and/or improvements in teacher pedagogies, through the application of pre and post surveys with teachers and their students. This is the first attempt to detect any observable correlation between teacher participation in effective PL and improved student experiences and/or learning outcomes.

Killion, J. (2002). Assessing impact, evaluating staff development. Journal of Staff Development, 24(4), 14-26.

Watson, J., Beswick, K., & Brown, N. (2012). Educational research and professional learning in changing times: The MARBLE experience. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

For more information: Information on project tools


UTAS has developed the quality professional learning framework which is available electronically by clicking on this link: TEMPEST QPLF. We recommend trialling this tool when planning professional learning.

The TEMPEST research involves two phases.

Phase 1:

An audit of current PL (2015–2016) available to teachers of mathematics and the identification of the characteristics of quality PL.

This phase has concluded. A paper on the findings of the audit has been submitted to the 2016 Australian Association of Research Educators conference.

Phase 2:

This phase focuses on identifying need, building relationships and managing the implementation of PL and the research process through the employment of five state/territory implementation officers.

The research scope is large and is dependent upon the roll-out capacity of all project contributors. Phase two of the research seeks the engagement of teachers, their schools and where practical, their students. See diagram below for a visual explanation of the research components.

Research status

Audit survey Completed
Characteristics of quality PL survey Completed
Interviews of “experts in the field” of what constitutes quality Completed
Design of QPLF Completed
Design of QPLF evaluation of PL Completed
Teacher survey Completed
Ethics approval from UTAS human research ethics committee (HREC) and for all state schools in all states
and the ACT
Implementation of PL in all states and the ACT Underway

Steps involved in the research process

research process from student survey to  pre-PL Teacher survey to Teacher PL Participation to Student post-PL maths activity to Student post PL Survey to Post PL teacher survey

Process Map

Flowchart of  Teacher PL process and evaluation

  • Professional learning for the teaching of mathematics
  • Available free PL
  • Projects

Current TEMPEST PL Projects

University of Canberra - National Mentoring for Science Teachers project

Professor of Education and Project Director Professor Michael Gaffney the National Mentoring for Science Teachers project, AAMT will establish a small group of expert teachers to advise on the mathematical demands that arise in teaching junior secondary physics and chemistry and measurement and how science teachers can approach these constructively.

University of South AustraliaExcellence and Equity in Maths: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Achievement and Tertiary Aspirations in Mathematics

Professor Peter Buckskin

The Excellence and Equity in Maths: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Achievement and Tertiary Aspirations in Mathematics project will work with clusters of secondary schools to encourage and support more Aboriginal students to study the higher level mathematics subjects in Years 11–12.

RMIT - Reframing Mathematical Futures:

Professor Dianne Siemon

The Reframing Mathematical Futures: Building a learning and teaching resource to enhance mathematical reasoning in Years 7 to 10 project will develop assessment tools and developmental trajectories for the "big ideas" in algebra and measurement, and statistics and probability, to go with an existing framework for number (multiplicative reasoning).

UTS - Maths Inside: Highlighting the role of mathematics in society as motivation to engage more in mathematical activities

Dr Mary Coupland

Maths Inside: Highlighting the role of mathematics in society as motivation to engage more in mathematical activities will develop inspirational videos and classroom resources that "unpack" the mathematics involved in some of CSIRO’s leading edge developments in science and technology.

For information about the TEMPEST project please contact Suzanne Crowley at


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This project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education
Department of Education Federal Commonwealth Austrelia