Algebra

Validation of the Equity and Access Rubrics for Mathematics Instruction (VEAR-MI)

The main goal of this project is to validate a set of rubrics that attend to the existence and the quality of instructional practices that support equity and access in mathematics classes. The project team will clarify the relationships between the practices outlined in the rubrics and aspects of teachers' perspectives and knowledge as well as student learning outcomes.

Award Number: 
1908481
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/15/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

High-quality mathematics instruction remains uncommon and opportunities for students to develop the mathematical understanding are not distributed equally. This is particularly true for students of color and students for whom English is not their first language. While educational research has made progress in identifying practices that are considered high-quality, little attention has been given to specific instructional practices that support historically marginalized groups of students particularly as they participate in more rigorous mathematics. The main goal is to validate a set of rubrics that attend to the existence and the quality of instructional practices that support equity and access in mathematics classes. In addition, the project team will clarify the relationships between the practices outlined in the rubrics and aspects of teachers' perspectives and knowledge as well as student learning outcomes.

This project will make use of two existing large-scale datasets focusing on mathematics teachers to develop rubrics on mathematics instructional quality. The datasets include nearly 3,000 video-recorded mathematics lessons and student achievement records from students in Grades 3 through 8. The four phases of this research and development project include training material development, an observation and rubric generalizability study, a coder reliability study, and structural analysis. Data analysis plans involve case studies, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, and cognitive interviews. 

Developing and Investigating Unscripted Mathematics Videos

This project will use an alternative model for online videos to develop video units that feature the unscripted dialogue of pairs of students. The project team will create a repository of 6 dialogic mathematics video units that target important Algebra 1 and 2 topics for high school and upper middle school students, though the approach can be applied to any STEM topic, for any age level.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907782
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

This project responds to the recent internet phenomenon of widespread accessibility to online instructional videos, which offer many benefits, such as student control of the pace of learning. However, these videos primarily focus on a single speaker working through procedural problems and providing an explanation. While the immense reach of free online instructional videos is potentially transformative, this potential can only be attained if access transcends physical availability to also include entry into important disciplinary understandings and practices, and only if the instructional method pushes past what would be considered outdated pedagogy in any other setting than a digital one. This project will use an alternative model for online videos, originally developed for a previous exploratory project, to develop 6 video units that feature the unscripted dialogue of pairs of students. The project team will use the filming and post-production processes established during the previous grant to create a repository of 6 dialogic mathematics video units that target important Algebra 1 and 2 topics for high school and upper middle school students, though the approach can be applied to any STEM topic, for any age level. They will also conduct 8 research studies to investigate the promise of these unscripted dialogic videos with a diverse population to better understand the vicarious learning process, which refers to learning from video- or audio-taped presentations of other people learning. Additionally, the project team will provide broader access to the project videos and support a variety of users, by: (a) subtitling the videos and checking math task statements for linguistic accessibility; (b) representing diversity of race, ethnicity, and language in both the pool of students who appear in the videos and the research study participants; (c) providing teachers with an array of resources including focus questions to pose in class with each video, printable task worksheets, specific ways to support dialogue about the videos, and alignment of the video content with Common Core mathematics standards and practices; and (d) modernizing the project website and making it functional across a variety of platforms.

The videos created for this project will feature pairs of students (called the talent), highlighting their unscripted dialogue, authentic confusion, and conceptual resources. Each video unit will consist of 7 video lessons (each split into 4-5 short video episodes) meant to be viewed in succession to support conceptual development over time. The project will build upon emerging evidence from the exploratory grant that as students engage with videos that feature peers grappling with complex mathematics, they can enter a quasi-collaborative relationship with the on-screen talent to learn complex conceptual content and engage in authentic mathematical practices. The research focuses on the questions: 1. What can diverse populations of vicarious learners learn mathematically from dialogic videos, and how do the vicarious learners orient to the talent in the videos? 2. What is the nature of vicarious learners' evolving ways of reasoning as they engage with multiple dialogic video lessons over time and what processes are involved in vicarious learning? and, 3. What instructional practices encourage a classroom community to adopt productive ways of reasoning from dialogic videos? To address the first question, the project team will conduct two Learning Outcomes and Orientation Studies, in which they analyze students' learning outcomes and survey responses after they have learned from one of the video units in a classroom setting. Before administering an assessment to a classroom of students, they will first conduct an exploratory Interpretation Study for each unit, in which they link the mathematical interpretations that VLs generate from viewing the project videos with their performance on an assessment instrument. Both types of studies will be conducted twice, once for each of two video units - Exponential Functions and Meaning and Use of Algebraic Symbols. For the second research question, the project team will identify a learning trajectory associated with each of four video units. These two learning trajectories will inform the instructional planning for the classroom studies by identifying what meaningful appropriation can occur, as well as conceptual challenges for VLs. By delivering learning trajectories for two additional units, the project can contribute to vicarious learning theory by identifying commonalities in learning processes evident across the four studies. For the final research question, the project team will investigate how instructors can support students with the instrumental genesis process, which occurs through a process called instrumental orchestration, as they teach the two videos on exponential functions and algebraic symbols.

Reasoning Language for Teaching Secondary Algebra

This project proposes to study the teaching and learning of algebra in grades 7-9, with a specific focus on the ways in which classroom language explicitly describes properties of and relationships among algebraic objects. The project seeks to investigate the bi-directional relationship between reasoning-rich algebraic discourse and the mathematical meanings students hold for core algebraic concepts such as equations, the equation-solving process, and functions.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1908825
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

Decades of research have demonstrated that stronger mathematics classroom discourse, along with the use and connection of multiple mathematical representations, correlates positively with gains in student learning. This relationship is particularly salient in algebra, where diversifying the representations available to students can provide important supports for the development of conceptual understanding. The Reasoning Language for Teaching Secondary Algebra (ReLaTe-SA) project proposes to study the teaching and learning of algebra in grades 7-9, with a specific focus on the ways in which classroom language explicitly describes properties of and relationships among algebraic objects. The project seeks to investigate the bi-directional relationship between reasoning-rich algebraic discourse and the mathematical meanings students hold for core algebraic concepts such as equations, the equation-solving process, and functions. With a focus on the teacher, ReLaTe-SA will analyze classroom narratives about algebraic concepts and procedures and provide an 80-hour professional development program designed to support teachers in developing stronger explanations of algebraic objects, their properties, and their relationships.

The ReLaTe-SA project will investigate three aspects of teacher discourse practice related to algebra. First, the project will study the discourse and discourse routines that teachers use to explain algebraic objects, their properties, and their relationships. This will be accomplished through the development and deployment of an assessment called the Survey of Algebraic Language and Reasoning to identify teachers' discursive routines and narratives in the context of algebra. The instrument asks teachers to interpret student work and explanations by describing the student's mathematical reasoning and underlying mathematical understandings. Second, the project will support potential growth in teachers' algebraic discourse practices through an 80-hour professional development intervention focused on discourse in algebra. The impact of this intervention will be measured by changes to teachers' response patterns on the Survey of Algebraic Language and Reasoning, analyses of teachers' work within the professional development, and the analysis of classroom observations after the professional development has concluded. Third, the project will seek to understand the ways in which teachers develop lessons that explicitly focus on the development of students' algebraic reasoning and discourse. This goal will be realized through analyses of the tasks, plans, and implementations of mathematics lessons in participating teachers' classrooms. Three cohorts of 12 teachers each will be recruited for the project. Based on the results of this exploratory project, the team intends to follow up with a larger-scale study of the professional development and its impact on the teaching and learning of algebra.

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Improving Grades 6-8 Students' Mathematics Achievement in Modeling and Problem Solving through Effective Sequencing of Instructional Practices

This project will provide structured and meaningful scaffolds for teachers in examining two research-based teaching strategies hypothesized to positively impact mathematics achievement in the areas of mathematical modeling and problem solving. The project investigates whether the order in which teachers apply these practices within the teaching of mathematics content has an impact on student learning.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907840
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

The Researching Order of Teaching project will provide structured and meaningful scaffolds for teachers in examining two research-based teaching strategies hypothesized to positively impact mathematics achievement in the areas of mathematical modeling and problem solving. The first strategy, Explicit Attention to Concepts (EAC), is a set of practices that draw students' attention specifically to mathematical concepts in ways that extend beyond memorization, procedures, or application of skills. This strategy may include teachers asking students to connect multiple mathematical representations, compare solution strategies, discuss mathematical reasoning underlying procedures, or to identify a main mathematical idea in a lesson and how it fits into the broader mathematical landscape. The second strategy, Student Opportunities to Struggle (SOS), entails providing students with time and space to make sense of graspable content, overcoming confusion points, stimulating personal sense-making, building perseverance, and promoting openness to challenge. This strategy may include teachers assigning problems with multiple solution strategies, asking students to look for patterns and make conjectures, encouraging and promoting discourse around confusing or challenging ideas, and asking students for extended mathematical responses. This project investigates whether the order in which teachers apply these practices within the teaching of mathematics content has an impact on student learning. This study builds on previous work that had identified an interaction between the EAC and SOS instructional strategies, and associated teacher reporting of stronger use of the practices with higher student mathematics achievement.

The project will have four key design features. First, the project will adopt and extend the research-based EAC/SOS conceptual framework, and explicitly responds to the call for further research on the interactions. Second, the project will focus on the mathematical areas of modeling and problem solving, two complex and critical competencies for all students in the middle grades. Third, the project will position teachers as collaborators in the research with needed expertise. Finally, the project will make use of research methods from crossover clinical trials to implementation in classrooms. The project aims to identify the affordances and constraints of the EAC/SOS framework in the design and development of instructional practices, to identify student- and teacher-level factors associated with changes in modeling and problem solving outcomes, to analyze teachers' implementations EAC and SOS in teaching modeling and problem solving and to associate those implementation factors with student achievement changes, and to determine whether the ordering of these two strategies correlates with differences in achievement. The project will collect classroom observation data and make use of existing tools to obtain reliable and valid ratings of the EAC and SOS strategies in action.The design of the study features a randomized 2 x 2 cluster crossover trial with a sample of teachers for 80% power. The project builds on existing state infrastructure and relationships with a wide array of school districts in the context of professional development, and aims to create a formal Teacher-Researcher Alliance for Investigating Learning as a part of the project work.

Algebraic Learning and Cognition in Learning Disabled Students

The project is a longitudinal assessment of the prerequisite (e.g. fractions), cognitive (e.g. working memory), and non-cognitive (e.g. math anxiety) factors that dynamically influence 7-9th grade students' algebraic learning and cognition, with a focus on students with learning disabilities in mathematics.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1659133
Funding Period: 
Tue, 08/15/2017 to Sat, 07/31/2021
Full Description: 

High school algebra is the gateway to a career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and can influence employability and wages in many non-STEM occupations. Students who struggle with or fail high school algebra have compromised occupational prospects, and nations that do not produce mathematically competent citizens may compromise their economic growth. Much is known about the factors that contribute to students' difficulties with arithmetic learning and interventions are being developed to address these difficulties. Little is known, however, about why some students struggle with algebra. Accordingly, the project will follow at risk students (including for example, those with dyslexia) from 7th grade through high school algebra and assess their prerequisite knowledge (e.g. fractions skills), cognitive systems (e.g., memory), attitudes and reactions to mathematics (e.g. math anxiety) and their attentiveness in math classrooms. The comprehensive evaluation of these students will allow us to identify the factors that influence difficulties in learning different aspects of algebra and risk of failing algebra more generally. The results will provide unique scientific insights into the cognitive and motivational influences on students' understanding and learning of algebra and identify areas for intervention with at-risk students. The results will also be used to develop a screening measure for the early identification of at-risk students and to identify specific areas for targeted intervention. The measure will be made freely available to interested school districts throughout the United States.

The project is a 7th to 9th grade longitudinal assessment of the prerequisite (e.g. fractions), cognitive (e.g. working memory), and non-cognitive (e.g. math anxiety) factors that dynamically influence students' algebraic learning and cognition, with a focus on students with learning disabilities in mathematics. The study will provide the most comprehensive assessment of the development of algebra competence ever conducted and is organized by an integrative model of cognitive and non-cognitive influences on students' engagement in math classrooms and on the learning of procedural and spatial-related aspects of algebra. The focus on students at risk for failing high school algebra is informed by research on the number and arithmetic deficits of these students, providing continuity with previous work, and a strong a priori framework for assessing their most likely difficulties in learning algebra; specifically, we developed novel measures that assess different aspects of procedural algebra (e.g. memory for the structure of algebra equations) and spatial-related algebra (e.g. recognizing how common functions map to coordinate space) that will allow for the study of different types of learning deficits and a determination of how more basic cognitive abilities, such as visuospatial working memory, may underlie these deficits. Prior cognitive studies of at-risk students have largely ignored the contributions of non-cognitive factors, such as math anxiety, on their learning or how their learning difficulties change attitudes about and reactions to mathematics (e.g. increasing math anxiety). The proposed research will address this important oversight and integrate these non-cognitive factors with assessments of teacher-rated student engagement in pre-algebra and algebra classrooms (and language arts classrooms as a contrast) and how engagement in the classroom influences the learning of procedural and spatial-related algebra. The research will also provide a thorough analysis of cognitive and non-cognitive influences on algebraic learning and cognition more generally, and thus inform general educational practices. In all, the proposed research will provide a comprehensive model for the study algebraic learning and cognition generally, and will provide a comprehensive assessment of associated deficits of learning disabled students and students at risk for failing high school algebra. The research will also make available revised or newly developed cognitive measures of procedural and spatial-related algebra skills that should facilitate future cognitive science and educational studies of algebra learning.

Developing Preservice Teachers' Capacity to Teach Students with Learning Disabilities in Algebra I

Project researchers are training pre-service teachers to tutor students with learning disabilities in Algebra 1, combining principles from special education, mathematics education, and cognitive psychology. The trainings emphasize the use of gestures and strategic questioning to support students with learning disabilities and to build students’ understanding in Algebra 1.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1813903
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/01/2018 to Sat, 07/31/2021
Full Description: 

This project is implementing a program to train pre-service teachers to tutor students with learning disabilities in Algebra 1, combining principles from special education, mathematics education, and cognitive psychology. The project trains tutors to utilize gestures and strategic questioning to support students with LD to build connections between procedural knowledge and conceptual understanding in Algebra 1, while supporting students’ dispositions towards doing mathematics. The training will prepare tutors to address the challenges that students with LD often face—especially challenges of working memory and processing—and to build on their strengths as they engage with Algebra 1. The project will measure changes in tutors’ ability to use gestures and questioning to support the learning of students with LD during and after the completion of our training. It will also collect and analyze data on the knowledge and dispositions of students with LD in Algebra 1 for use in the ongoing refinement of the training and in documenting the impact of the training program.

 

Measuring Early Mathematical Reasoning Skills: Developing Tests of Numeric Relational Reasoning and Spatial Reasoning

The primary aim of this study is to develop mathematics screening assessment tools for Grades K-2 over the course of four years that measure students' abilities in numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning. The team of researchers will develop Measures of Mathematical Reasoning Skills system, which will contain Tests of Numeric Relational Reasoning (T-NRR) and Tests of Spatial Reasoning (T-SR).

Award Number: 
1721100
Funding Period: 
Fri, 09/15/2017 to Tue, 08/31/2021
Full Description: 

Numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning are critical to success in later mathematics coursework, including Algebra 1, a gatekeeper to success at the post-secondary level, and success in additional STEM domains, such as chemistry, geology, biology, and engineering. Given the importance of these skills for later success, it is imperative that there are high-quality screening tools available to identify students at-risk for difficulty in these areas. The primary aim of this study is to develop mathematics screening assessment tools for Grades K-2 over the course of four years that measure students' abilities in numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning. The team of researchers will develop Measures of Mathematical Reasoning Skills system, which will contain Tests of Numeric Relational Reasoning (T-NRR) and Tests of Spatial Reasoning (T-SR). The measures will be intended for use by teachers and school systems to screen students to determine who is at-risk for difficulty in early mathematics, including students with disabilities. The measures will help provide important information about the intensity of support that may be needed for a given student. Three forms per grade level will be developed for both the T-NRR and T-SR with accompanying validity and reliability evidence collected. The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

The development of the T-NRR and T-SR measures will follow an iterative process across five phases. The phases include (1) refining the construct; (2) developing test specifications and item models; (3) developing items; (4) field testing the items; and (5) conducting validity studies. The evidence collected and evaluated during each phase will contribute to the overall evaluation of the reliability of the measures and the validity of the interpretations made using the measures. Item models, test specifications, and item development will be continuously evaluated and refined based on data from cognitive interviews, field tests, and reviews by mathematics educators, teachers of struggling students, teachers of culturally and linguistically diverse populations, and a Technical Advisory Board. In the final phase of development of the T-NRR and T-SR, reliability of the results will be estimated and multiple sources of validity evidence will be collected to examine the concurrent and predictive relation with other criterion measures, classification accuracy, and sensitivity to growth. Approximately 4,500 students in Grades K-2 will be involved in all phases of the research including field tests and cognitive interviews. Data will be analyzed using a two-parameter IRT model to ensure item and test form comparability.

The Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching Measures: Refreshing the Item Pool

This project proposes an assessment study that focuses on improving existing measures of teachers' Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching (MKT). The research team will update existing measures, adding new items and aligning the instrument to new standards in school mathematics.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1620914
Funding Period: 
Thu, 12/01/2016 to Sat, 11/30/2019
Full Description: 

This project proposes an assessment study that focuses on improving existing measures of teachers' Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching (MKT). The research team will update existing measures, adding new items and aligning the instrument to new standards in school mathematics. In addition, the team will update the delivery system for the assessment to Qualtrics, a more flexible online system.

The research team will build an updated measure of teachers' Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching (MKT). Project researchers will conduct item writing camps, develop new items, cognitively pilot and revise items, and factor analyze items. The researchers will also determine item constructs and calibrate items (and constructs) through an innovative application of Item Response Theory (IRT) employing a variant of the standard 2-parameter IRT model. Finally, the team will oversee the transition of the Teacher Knowledge Assessment System to the Qualtrics data collection environment to allow for more flexible item specification.

Identifying Effective Instructional Practices that Foster the Development of Algebraic Thinking in Elementary School

This project seeks to identify teaching practices that can be linked to students' early algebra learning in grades three, four and five. The goal of the project is to use assessment data and videos of classroom teaching in order to create a tool that can be used to document effective instructional practices. This observation tool can then be used to support teacher professional development in early algebra and research about how teachers' actions can be linked to students' learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1721192
Funding Period: 
Thu, 06/01/2017 to Mon, 05/31/2021
Full Description: 

There is a critical need to better prepare all students for learning algebra. Part of this preparation involves developing a strong foundation for algebra in the elementary grades by building on students' informal intuitions about patterns, relationships and structure into more formalized ways of mathematical thinking. This project seeks to identify teaching practices that can be linked to students' early algebra learning in grades three, four and five. The goal of the project is to use assessment data and videos of classroom teaching in order to create a tool that can be used to document effective instructional practices. This observation tool can then be used to support teacher professional development in early algebra and research about how teachers' actions can be linked to students' learning. The project is unique in its work to link an early algebra curriculum with understanding of teachers' practices in implementing that curriculum and students' learning of mathematics.

The project aims to address two research questions. First, what profiles of instructional practice are associated with greater student performance in early algebra? Second, to what extent do these profiles of effective instructional practices vary by grade level? The primary product of the work is an early algebra observation protocol that will capture non-domain and non-grade level specific practices of effective teaching in combination with practices specific to early algebra. Videos of early algebra classrooms will be used to design the observation protocol, which in turn, will then be used along with student assessment data to identify profiles of instructional practices associated with students' learning. Multiple phases of testing and revision will be used to create the observation protocol. The observation protocol will also generate profiles of teacher practices that can be used to describe different models for effectively teaching early algebra. The project will also examine implications of their work for teacher preparation and professional development.

Examining Relationships Between Flipped Instruction and Students' Learning of Mathematics

This study can provide a basis for design research focused on developing effective materials and programs for flipped instruction in secondary mathematics, which is already occurring at an increasing rate, but it is not yet informed by empirical evidence. This project will result in a framework for flipped instruction robust enough to be useful at a variety of grade levels and contexts. The framework will provide a better understanding of the relationships among various implementations of flipped instruction and student learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1721025
Funding Period: 
Tue, 08/01/2017 to Fri, 07/31/2020
Full Description: 

Instead of presenting new material in class and then assigning problems to be completed outside of class, flipped instruction involves students watching videos or reading new material outside of class and then completing their "homework" in class. Teachers' implementation of flipped instruction has increased dramatically in recent years, with more than two-thirds of teachers now reporting flipping a lesson, if not an entire course. Although popular media and philanthropic organizations have given a great deal of attention and financial support to flipped instruction, little is known about how teachers implement it and what benefits and drawbacks flipped instruction has in contrast with non-flipped instruction. This study can provide a basis for design research focused on developing effective materials and programs for flipped instruction in secondary mathematics. This design and development is already occurring at an increasing rate, but it is not yet informed by empirical evidence. This project will result in a framework for flipped instruction robust enough to be useful at a variety of grade levels and contexts. The framework will provide a better understanding of the relationships among various implementations of flipped instruction and student learning. These findings can inform teacher educators in better aligning their instruction to instructional formats that correlate with increased student learning outcomes.

Using mixed-methods techniques, the study will look at the nature of the activities and interactions occurring in mathematics classrooms and assess their quality so that the researchers may distinguish high-quality from low-quality univocal discourse, high-quality from low-quality dialogic discourse, and high cognitive demand from low cognitive demand tasks. Working in 40 algebra classrooms -- 20 implementing some form of flipped instruction and 20 serving as a non-flipped basis for comparison -- the project will address the following research questions using a correlational design and multilevel modeling techniques: RQ1. What are salient factors entailed in flipped instruction in secondary algebra? RQ2. What associations, if any, exist among factors entailed in teachers' implementation of flipped algebra instruction and students' learning of algebra as measured on a state-mandated end-of-course assessment and on a concept-of-variable inventory?

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