Duncan Lawson

Co-Director of sigma and Professor of Mathematics Education

Management, delivery and strategic development of the mathematics and statistics support service at the University.

  • BA Mathematics 1st class honours (Oxford University)
    DPhil Mathematics (Oxford University)
  • Chartered Mathematician
  • Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications
    Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

duncan.lawson@coventry.ac.uk

Biography

On completing my PhD, I worked for three years for British Gas as a research scientist carrying out mathematical modelling of hazardous situations. I then joined Coventry Polytechnic as a Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics. The Polytechnic became a University and I progressed to Principal Lecturer and then Associate Dean. During this time, one of my responsibilities was the management of the Mathematics Support Centre. In 2005, in collaboration with Loughborough University, I established sigma as a Centre for Excellence in University-wide Mathematics and Statistics Support. In the same year, I was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship. In 2011, sigma was awarded the Times Higher Award for Outstanding Support for Students.

For several years, I was partially seconded to Birmingham University to be the Director of the Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research Subject Centre of the Higher Education Academy. When the Higher Education Academy ended funding of subject centres, my secondment was transferred to the Higher Education Academy to be a Director and then Assistant Chief Executive.

In 2012, I began an association with the Norwegian Quality Assurance and Enhancement Agency, NOKUT, and their centres for excellent education programme. I advised on the establishment of the first open call for centres for excellence, chaired the international expert selection panel, subsequently chaired the mid-term evaluation panel and have contributed to further rounds of the scheme both as a panel member and as an advisor to potential applicants.

In 2013, after 26 years, I left Coventry University to become the first Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Formative Education at Newman University. At this point, Newman had just been awarded full university title. I oversaw a revision of both the academic portfolio and the structure of undergraduate programmes. I also developed a new institutional learning, teaching and assessment strategy.

In 2016, I was awarded the prestigious Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications Gold Medal for outstanding contribution to the improvement of the teaching of mathematics. In 2018, I returned to Coventry University and to sigma so that I could spend more time teaching students and undertaking research.

Reseaerch interests

  • Development of mathematics and statistics support
  • Mathematics education in higher education
  • Excellent teaching

Awards

2016 - Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications Gold Medal for outstanding contribution to the improvement of the teaching of mathematics

2011 - Times Higher Award for Outstanding Support for Students
2005 - National Teaching Fellowship

Professional activities

Editor of Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications
Member of IMA Higher Education Service Area
Member of TEF Natural Sciences Subject Panel
Member of Strategic Management Board for Learning and Education for the future at University of Agder
Member of International Advisory Board for MatRIC, Centre for Excellent Education (Norway)
Member of SEFI Mathematics Working Group
Judge for HEA / Times Higher Global Teaching Excellence Awards 2017-18
Advisor to Norwegian Quality Assurance and Enhancement Agency (NOKUT) on Centres for Excellent Education 2012-16
Chair of QAA Mathematics, Statistics & Operational Research Benchmark Group 2007, 2009, 2015
Chair of the Joint Mathematical Council of the UK 2009-12
Chair of HoDoMS (Heads of Departments of Mathematical Sciences in UK universities) 2003-2005

Grant funding

2013-16 sigma Mathematics Support Network £800,000 from HEFCE
2009-2012 sigma Mathematics Support Network £457,000 from National HE STEM Programme
2009-2012 HE Mathematics Curriculum Innovation £600,000 from National HE STEM Programme
2008 Improvement of mathcentre website £80,000 from JISC
2006-2009 More Maths Grads £3,300,000 from HEFCE
2007-2009 More Maths Grads (Wales) £186,000 from HEFCW
2006-2007 European Virtual Laboratory of Mathematics £380,000 for EU Leonardo
2005-2010 sigma Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, £4,850,000 from HEFCE

Publications

1. Grove, M., Croft, T. Lawson, D. and Petrie, M. (2019) Community Perspectives of Mathematics and Statistics Support in Higher Education: The Role of the Staff Member, Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications, 38(1):43-59.

2. Grove, M., Croft, T. Lawson, D. and Petrie, M. (2018) Community Perspectives of Mathematics and Statistics Support in Higher Education: Building the Infra-Structure, Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications, 37(4):171-191.

3. Croft, T. and Lawson, D. (2017) Improving Mathematics Education: what can we learn from 25 years of mathematics support? Mathematics TODAY, 53(5) pp. 196-199.

4. Lawson, D., Katafiasz, K., Cousins, H. and Healy, L. (2017) A curriculum framework to support transitions, pp. 22-26 in Supporting student success: strategies for institutional change, What Works? Student Retention and Success, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, London.

5. Mackenzie, H., Tolley, H., Croft, T., Grove, M. and Lawson, D. (2016) Senior management perspectives of mathematics and statistics support in higher education: Moving to an ‘ecological’ approach’ Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 38(5), pp. 550-561.

6. Lawson, D. (2016) The potential of centres of/for excellence in higher education, in Heading for Excellence (Pa Vei Mot Det Fremste?), Eds: Braten, H. and Borsheim, A., NOKUT, Oslo, pp. 125-144.

7. Lawson, D. (2016) sigma: A case study of an enduring centre for excellence, in Heading for Excellence (Pa Vei Mot Det Fremste?), Eds: Braten, H. and Borsheim, A., NOKUT, Oslo, pp. 145-166.

8. Grove, M., Croft, T., Kyle, J. and Lawson, D. (Eds) (2015) Transitions in Undergraduate Mathematics Education, University of Birmingham.

9. Lawson, D. (2015) Mathematics support at the transition to university, in Transitions in Undergraduate Mathematics Education, Eds: Grove, M., Croft, T., Kyle, J. and Lawson, D., University of Birmingham, pp. 39-56.

10. Lawson, D. and Croft, T. (2015) Mathematics Support – past, present and, most importantly, future, MSOR Connections, 14 (1), pp. 4-10.

11. Croft, T., Lawson, D., Hawkes, T., Grove, M., Bowers, D. and Petrie, M. (2015) sigma – A Network Working!, Mathematics TODAY, 51(1), pp. 36-40.

12. Lawson, D. (2014) Mathematics support at English Universities, in Oberwolfach Report 5/2014 Mathematics in Undergraduate Study Programs, pp. 24-25.

13. Solomon, Y., Croft, T., Duah, F and Lawson, D. (2014) Reshaping understanding of teaching-learning relationships in undergraduate mathematics: an activity theory analysis of the role and impact of student internships, Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 3(4), pp. 323-333.