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.

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 and the Higher Education Academy. 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.


Selected refereed papers

  • 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.
  • Sinclair, N., Watson, A., Zazkis, R., Mason, J. (2011 in press) The structuring of personal example spaces  Journal of Mathematical Behavior
  • Watson, A. (2013) Reflecting on calculation: when drilling becomes fulfilling. In B.Kaur (ed.) Nurturing reflective learners in mathematics. pp.151-166. Singapore: World Scientific.
  • Watson, A., & Harel, G., (2013). The role of teachers’ knowledge of functions in their teaching, Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education. 13(2), 154-168.
  • Watson, A. & Bills, L. (2010) Working mathematically on teaching mathematics: Preparing graduates to teach secondary mathematics. In O. Zaslavsky & P.Sullivan (eds.) Constructing knowledge for teaching secondary mathematics: tasks to enhance prospective and practicing teacher learning. NY: Springer.pp.89-102
  • Watson, A. (2010) Shifts of mathematical thinking in adolescence. Research in Mathematics Education. 12(2) 133-148.
  • Watson, A., and De Geest, E. (2011) Learning in mathematics through sequences of microtasks: making a difference for secondary learners  International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. 10(1), pp. 213–235.
  • Watson, A. (2010) Locating the spine of mathematics teaching. Invited plenary lecture. In M. Pinto & T. Kawasaki   (eds.) Proceedings of the 34th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. (pp. 23-40) Brazil: University of Minho Gerais.
  • Watson, A. (2008) School mathematics as a special kind of mathematics. For the Learning of Mathematics. 28(3) 3-8

Selected Books

  • 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)
  • Watson, A. & Barton, B. (2011) Teaching mathematics as the contextual application of modes of mathematical enquiry. In T. Rowland & K. Ruthven (eds.) Mathematical knowledge in teaching. NY: Springer.pp.65-82.
  • 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

Activities related to exemplification and task design:

  • With Professor Minoru Ohtani: ICMI Study on Task Design
  • February 2010: Day seminar on Variation, animation and attention.

Activities related to the role of mathematics education in social justice issues:

  • The Changes in Mathematics Teaching Project, funded by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, is a three-year project following a cohort of previously low-attaining students through key stage 3 in schools where teachers are changing the ways they teach such students – focusing on establishing new work habits and enhancing mathematical thinking. This was undertaken with Dr Els De Geest. See www.cmtp.co.uk.

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
Anne Watson profile


  • Professor Emeritus

College affiliation

  • Linacre College

Subject area

  • Mathematics Education

Research groups

  • Mathematics Education
  • Teacher Education and Professional Learning