​Mathematics for the Inquiring Mind: Developing Curiosity In Mathematics
TWCF Number
Project Duration
August 1 / 2017
- July 31 / 2019
Core Funding Area
Character Virtue Development
Amount Awarded
Grant DOI*

* A Grant DOI (digital object identifier) is a unique, open, global, persistent and machine-actionable identifier for a grant.

John David Barrow
Institution Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge

How can we make curiosity, perseverance, and resilience central to math education?

Educators and policymakers are increasingly concerned that traditional mathematics curricula lack opportunities for students to appreciate the rewards of sustained constructive effort and inquiry. Indeed, some educational research even suggests that traditional school curricula can actively inhibit curiosity, forestalling the development of the questioning thinking that will lead to innovation and discovery in the future. This project aims to break new ground in mathematical teaching by creating a wide-reaching program of freely accessible, innovative, engaging resources, activities, and events that aim to develop the positive character traits of curiosity, inquiring habits of mind, and resilience in mathematics students.


  • Face-to-face student events
  • A pilot program of online interactive webinars
  • Family events in Cambridge for parents/carers and children to promote mathematical curiosity through informal learning
  • Downloadable project resources and materials to encourage and support schools, universities, and other institutions hosting face-to-face mathematical events in the UK and worldwide
  • Academic articles that disseminate case study findings in teacher journals and among influential policy bodies like the Joint Mathematical Council and the UK Examinations Forum ​

Success Metrics

Case-Study Schools
To measure and evaluate the success of the project in promoting curiosity, perseverance, and resilience, the applicants will develop scales to be used in case-study schools. Short-term indicators of success would be a 75% increase in question posing, perseverance, and resilience as measured by these Likert scales, and month-on-month increases in visits to online resources. Longer-term indicators of change include teachers' reports of an improved and sustained increase in students' curiosity, perseverance, and resilience.

Overall Indicators
Short-term indicators of change include an increased ability to apply mathematical knowledge in unfamiliar contexts, as evidenced by case studies; increased engagement in problem-solving, as measured through the number of online visits to project resources; and public and family attendance to project events. Longer-term indicators of success are sustained engagement with the project website and student response to project resources.


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