Emeritus Professor Anne Watson

My main areas of research in Mathematics Education are exemplification and task design in mathematics teaching and learning, from a variation theory perspective; the role of mathematics education in social justice issues; the use of fine-grained approaches to analysis of mathematics interaction within socio-cultural perspectives and the school mathematics curriculum.

Detailed information, papers, presentations and activities can be found on my website at pmtheta.com and on researchgate.net.

I convened and co-edited an ICMI Study on Task Design and have co-authored a book about learning key ideas in secondary mathematics – Key Ideas in Teaching Mathematics for Oxford University Press.

I am a member of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM), the British Society for Research into the Learning of Mathematics, the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education anthe Higher Education Academy and the Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group. I also have Fellowships of the International Society for Design and Development in Education, and the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications.  I am one of the editors of the journal Teaching Mathematics and its Applications. With my husband, John Mason, and Malcolm Swan I run an Annual Institute of Mathematics Pedagogy for four days in July/August in Oxford.

Activities in curriculum:

  • Two syntheses of research about how children learn mathematics for the Nuffield Foundation: Key Understandings in Learning Mathematics (with Nunes and Bryant) and Key Ideas in Teaching Mathematics (with Jones and Pratt).
  • Member of the expert drafting panel for the primary and secondary mathematics National Curriculum for the Department for Education
  • Co-PI (with Steve Lerman of South Bank University) of a project to identify learning trajectories about functions, a comparative study with the Weizmann Institute


Selected recent papers

  • Ayalon, M., Watson, A. & Lerman, S. (2016 in press) Students’ conceptualisations of function revealed through definitions and examples. Research in Mathematics Education.
  • Ayalon, M., Watson, A. & Lerman, S. (2016) Reasoning about variables in 11 to 18 year olds: informal, schooled and formal expression in learning about functions. Mathematics Education Research Journal. DOI: 10.1007/s13394-016-0171-5
  • Ayalon, M., Watson, A., & Lerman, S. (2015). Progression Towards Functions: Students’ Performance on Three Tasks About Variables from Grades 7 to 12. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, Online DOI 10.1007/s10763-014-9611-4
  • Ayalon, Watson and Lerman (2015) Functions represented as linear sequential data: relationships between presentation and student responses Educational Studies in Mathematics.Online DOI 10.1007/s10649-015-9628-9
  • Watson, A. and Ohtani, M. (2015) Themes and issues in mathematics education concerning task design: Editorial introduction. In Watson, A. and Ohtani, M. (eds.) Task Design in Mathematics Education: An ICMI study.  (pp. 3-18 ) Heidelberg: Springer
  • Watson, A. and Ohtani, M. (2015) (Eds.) Task Design in Mathematics Education: An ICMI study.  Heidelberg: Springer.
  • Watson, A. and Thompson, D. (2015) Design issues related to text-based tasks. In Watson, A. and Ohtani, M. (eds.) Task Design in Mathematics Education: An ICMI study.  (pp.143-190)  Heidelberg: Springer.
  • Stylianides, G. J. and Watson, A. (2015) The interplay between mathematics and pedagogy: Designing tasks for mathematics teacher education in I.Thompson (Ed.) (2014) Designing Tasks in Secondary Education:  Enhancing subject understanding and student engagement. (pp.47-69) London & New York: Routledge.
  • Watson, A., De Geest, E. (2014) Department-initiated change. Educational Studies in Mathematics online first. DOI 10.1007/s10649-014-9549-z
  • Ayalon, M., Lerman, S., & Watson, A. (2013). Graph-matching situations: some insights from a cross year survey in the UK. Research in Mathematics Education, 16(1) 73-74.
  • Watson, A. & Harel, G. (2013). “The role of teachers’ knowledge of functions in their teaching: A conceptual approach with illustrations from two cases.” Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education 13(2), 154-168.
  • Sandefur, J., Mason, J., Stylianides, G. J., & Watson, A. (2013). Generating and using examples in the proving process. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 83(3), 323-340.
  • Watson, A. & Chick, H. (2011) Qualities of examples in learning and teaching.  ZDM: The international journal in mathematics education 43(3).DOI 10.1007/s11858-010-0301-6.

Selected Books

  • Watson, A. and Ohtani, M. (2015) (Eds.) Task Design in Mathematics Education: An ICMI study.  Heidelberg: Springer.
  • Watson, A.,  Jones, K. and Pratt, D. (2013)  Key Ideas in Teaching Mathematics: Research-based guidance for ages 9-19 (Oxford University Press + Nuffield website)
  • A. Watson and P. Winbourne (eds.) (2007) New Directions for Situated Cognition in Learning Mathematics, pub. Springer
  • Watson, A. and Mason, J. (2005) Mathematics as a constructive activity: learners generating examples. Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.
  • Watson, Houssart and Roaf (eds.) (2005): Supporting Mathematical Thinking pub. David Fulton.
  • M.Ollerton and A. Watson (2001) Inclusive Mathematics 11-18, Continuum, London. 168pp. ISBN 0-8264-5201-9
Anne Watson profile


  • Professor Emeritus

College affiliation

  • Linacre College

Subject area

  • Mathematics Education

Research groups

  • Mathematics Education
  • Teacher Education and Professional Learning