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Dr Helen Thouless

Senior Lecturer in Primary Mathematics

Dr Helen Thouless

About Research



Helen received her Masters in Teaching from the University of Washington in 2001 and taught for over 10 years in urban state schools in London and Seattle. While teaching she held a variety of roles, including being a Mathematics Specialist, an Inclusion teacher and a Special Education teacher. From 2005 to 2006 she also taught science and English at a charity-funded school in Arusha, Tanzania.

Other education-related jobs that she has held include Lecturer in mathematics education at UCL Institute of Education, visiting Lecturer in mathematics education at the University of Roehampton, Lecturer in mathematics education at the University of Washington, a Research Assistant on a mathematics school improvement project at the University of Washington, and a health education volunteer for the United States Peace Corps in Mamou, Republic of Guinea.


Research profile

Helen's research interests include teaching mathematics to children with mathematical difficulties, especially children with special educational needs and disabilities. Her other research interests include teaching mathematics to children in the early years, with a special focus on their understanding of pattern.

Helen completed her PhD in Learning Sciences at the University of Washington in 2014. Her dissertation examined the whole number place value understanding of children with dyslexia.

She is currently working on the project: 'See, hear!' Exploring children's pattern making in maths and music, using the Sounds of Intent framework. This project explores the relationship between musical and visual pattern awareness for children with developmental delays.

Previously she worked on the project 'The Power of Pattern'. This project was designed to develop the pattern recognition skills of children in the early years through ongoing professional development for their teachers that emphasised developing mathematical skills through play-based activities.

One of the impacts of this project was the publication of a book to support teachers to teach patterning: Borthwick, A. Gifford, S. & Thouless, H. (2021). 'The Power of Pattern: Patterning in the Early Years', Association of Teachers of Mathematics.

Helen was one of the editors of the book: Xin, Y. P. Tzur, R. & Thouless, H. (2022). 'Enabling mathematics learning of struggling students' Springer. This book is suitable for upper undergraduate or graduate courses that explore how to support the mathematics learning of struggling students.

Helen was the Membership Coordinator for the British Society for Research in Learning Mathematics from 2017 to 2021 and organises a working group for Special Education and Maths at this conference.

Helen is a doctoral supervisor for Alex McLean-Nelson who is writing 'A case study of English universities that provide the Primary PGCE course, focusing on SEND teaching and learning' for his doctorate at St Mary's University.

Helen would be interested in supervising doctorates in the following areas:

  • Primary Mathematics
  • Early Years Mathematics
  • Special Education

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