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Personal profile


Sarah HOPKINS is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Monash University and has many years of experience in primary and secondary teacher education. Prior to work in universities, she was a secondary teacher of mathematics and teacher in juvenile justice centres.  

Sarah has held a long-term interest in research that will help address Australia’s ‘long tail’ of underachievement in mathematics. For example, around 20 percent of 15-year-olds do not meet internationally agreed upon baseline levels of mathematical literacy. While many efforts to shrink the tail are focused on interventions to remediate poor proficiency with basic skills once students have already fallen behind, Sarah’s research is focused on how classroom-based teaching practice can be tailored to address individual patterns of difficulty before children fall behind. She is currently investigating the role confidence plays in the development of retrieval-based strategies and how number fluency can be taught using cognitively-demanding tasks.

Sarah is also passionate about increasing the options for people with intellectual disability to learn post-secondary school. In 2015 she helped form an ongoing partnership between Monash University and Wallara (a community-based organisation) to establish the Keep on Learning (KoL) Program. The KoL program involves preservice teachers in their first year of undergraduate study tutoring young adults with intellectual disability (clients) to improve their literacy and numeracy skills. Along with her colleagues, she has investigated the benefits of the KoL program for pre-service teachers in terms of preparing them to teach in inclusive classrooms and fostering resilience. She plans to expand this research to include an investigation into the benefits for clients in terms of promoting greater community engagement.

Sarah’s research has included instrument design and validation (including using Rasch analysis), multi-level modelling and other quantitative techniques (e.g., ANOVAs, regression, and K-means cluster). She is particularly interested in advancing microgenetic approaches that incorporate multiple-base line designs to investigate learning difficulties.

Research area keywords

  • Mathematics
  • Retrieval
  • Strategy Development
  • Number fluency
  • Learning difficulties
  • Intellectual disability
  • Numeracy
  • Microgenetic approaches
  • Confidence

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Projects 2015 2020

Research Output 2002 2019

Mental computation fluency: assessing flexibility, efficiency and accuracy

Hopkins, S., Russo, J. & Downton, A., 2019, Proceedings of the 43rd Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Graven, M., Venkat, H., Essien, A. A. & Vale, P. (eds.). 1st ed. Pretoria South Africa: International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Vol. 2. p. 376-383 8 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

Open Access

Teachers’ perceptions of students when observing lessons involving challenging tasks

Russo, J. & Hopkins, S., Apr 2019, In : International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. 17, 4, p. 759-779 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Teaching primary mathematics with challenging tasks: how should lessons be structured?

Russo, J. & Hopkins, S., 2019, In : Journal of Educational Research. 112, 1, p. 98-109 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

The advantages and disadvantages of problem-solving practice when learning basic addition facts

Hopkins, S., 2019, Problem Solving for Teaching and Learning: A Festschrift for Emeritus Professor Mike Lawson. Askell-Williams, H. & Orrell, J. (eds.). 1st ed. Abingdon UK: Routledge, p. 209-227 19 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

The case of disappearing and reappearing zeros: a disconnection between procedural knowledge and conceptual understanding

Downton, A., Russo, J. & Hopkins, S., 2019, Mathematics Education Research: Impacting Practice: Proceedings of the 42nd annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia. Hine, G., Blackley, S. & Cooke, A. (eds.). Adelaide SA Australia: Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, p. 236-243 8 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review