GLEA Professor named in Queen’s Birthday Honours

The pioneering work of Professor Duncan Lawson, co-Director of sigma and member of the GLEA Research Centre, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced on Saturday 8 June. He has been awarded an MBE for services to Mathematics in Higher Education.

Tens of thousands of students at universities across this country and internationally have enjoyed a transformed experience of studying the mathematical aspects of their courses, thanks to the innovative and determined work of Professor Lawson in championing, developing and disseminating mathematics and statistics support.

In 2016, Duncan’s lifetime work was recognised by the award of the Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications Gold Medal for outstanding contribution to the improvement of the teaching of mathematics. This was the first time the Medal has been awarded in the field of mathematics education.

Professor Scott Davidson, Vice-Chancellor of Newman University, who nominated him for the award

Professor Lawson, and his long-term collaborator and fellow IMA Gold medal winner, Professor Tony Croft of Loughborough University, have been called ‘the founding fathers of mathematics support in the UK’ for their innovative work in developing mathematics and statistics support. They have helped steer mathematics and statistics support from what was previously called a ‘cottage industry’ and a ‘Cinderella service’ to an essential part of the Higher Education infra-structure.

Although Professor Lawson has approached the development of mathematics and statistics support as a practitioner, he has always informed this practice by research and scholarship. In 2008, he supervised the first PhD in the UK in the field of mathematics support – the study, by Ria Symonds, was entitled Student engagement with mathematics support. Since then, he has supervised and externally examined several further PhDs in this field.

He has published numerous articles and reports on mathematics and statistics support. His latest work, which is currently under review, is a major survey of literature in the field over the last 20 years. He has been editor of the journal Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications for the last 12 years.

In addition to his work in mathematics support, Duncan has made a range of further contributions to Mathematics in Higher Education in the UK including chairing the Joint Mathematical Council of the UK, overseeing development of the current QAA Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research Subject Benchmark Statement, representing mathematics on the joint DfE/BIS STEM Ministerial Advisory Group and being Director of the Maths, Stats and OR Subject Centre.

Internationally, Professor Lawson has made contributions to the Irish Mathematics Learning Support Network and to the development of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) core curriculum for engineering mathematics. In addition, since 2013, he has provided expertise to the Norwegian Centres for Excellent Education programme, having advised on its development and evolution and chaired the selection panel. Within this programme, he has used his specialist mathematical expertise to support MatRIC, a centre for excellence in mathematics education at the University of Agder.

For more information please contact globallearning@coventry.ac.uk.