Department of Education

Anne Watson

Professor Emeritus

College Affiliation: Linacre College

Anne’s 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 her website at and on

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

She is 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 and the Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group. She also has Fellowships of the International Society for Design and Development in Education, and the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications.  With her husband, John Mason, and others, she runs an Annual Institute of Mathematics Pedagogy for four days in July-August in Oxford.

Anne is a member of the Quaker Values in Education Group of the Society of Friends, see: Rowe, D. and Watson, A. (eds.) (2018)  Faith and Experience in Education: essays on Quaker perspectives. London: Trentham Press.

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.
  • Curriculum Advisor to the Welsh Assembly.

Selected recent papers

  • Watson, A. & Mason, J. (2018) A tale of two digital games: How discussion can augment personal narratives. In R. Zazkis & P. Herbst (eds) Scripting approaches in mathematics education: Mathematical dialogues in research and practice.  73-88. Springer Publishers.
  • Al-Murani, T., Kilhamn, C., Morgan, D., & Watson, A. (2018). Opportunities for learning: the use of variation to analyse examples of a paradigm shift in teaching primary mathematics in England. Research in Mathematics Education, 1-19.
  • Watson, A., Ayalon, M., & Lerman, S. (2018). Comparison of students’ understanding of functions in classes following English and Israeli national curricula. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 97(3), 255-272.
  • Ayalon, M., Watson, A. & Lerman, S. (2016) Students’ conceptualisations of function revealed through definitions and examples. Research in Mathematics Education. 19(1), 1-19
  • Watson, A. (2016) Pedagogy of variations: synthesis of various notions of variation pedagogy in Huang, R. & Li, Y. (eds.) Teaching and learning mathematics through variation. p85-105. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers
  • 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. 28(3), 379-404.
  • 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, 90(3), 321-339
  • Ayalon, M., Watson, A. and Lerman, S. (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 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.
  • Watson, A., De Geest, E. (2014) Department-initiated change. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 87(3), 351-368.
  • 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.
  • 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(2) 283-294.

Selected Books

  • Watson, A. (ed.) (2018) Variation in mathematics: A collection of writings from ATM Mathematics Teaching. Association of Teachers of Mathematics, Derby, UK.
  • 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)
  • 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.
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