Algebra

Modeling Engineered Levers for the 21st Century Teaching of STEM (Collaborative Research: Schunn)

This project will develop three replacement units for biology and refine them through classroom testing. The units will be models of STEM integration by using the important concepts of proportional reasoning and algebraic thinking and engineering re-design to address big ideas in science while also promoting the learning of 21st century skills. The materials will be educative for teachers, and the teacher materials and professional development methods will work at scale and distance.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1027629
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Sun, 08/31/2014
Project Evaluator: 
Bill Bickel
Full Description: 

Research in biology has become increasingly mathematical, but high school courses in biology use little mathematics. To address this concern, this project will develop three replacement units for biology and refine them through classroom testing. The units will be models of STEM integration by using the important concepts of proportional reasoning and algebraic thinking and engineering re-design to address big ideas in science while also promoting the learning of 21st century skills. The materials build on existing work on the use of model eliciting activities and focus science and technology instruction on high-stakes weaknesses in mathematics and science. They address the scaling issue as part of the core design work by developing small units of curriculum that can be applied by early adopters in each context. The materials will undergo many rounds of testing and revision in the early design process with at least ten teachers each time. The materials will be educative for teachers, and the teacher materials and professional development methods will work at scale and distance.

Learning of science content will be measured through the use of existing instruments in wide use. Existing scales of task values, achievement goals and interest are used to measure student motivation. The work performed is guided by a content team; a scaling materials team; a scaling research team; the PI team of a cognitive scientist, a robotics educator, and a mathematics educator specializing in educational reform at scale; and the summative evaluation team lead by an external evaluator.

There is great interest in understanding whether integrated STEM education can interest more students in STEM disciplines. The focus on mathematics integrated with engineering in the context of a science topic is interesting and novel and could contribute to our understanding of integrating mathematics, engineering and science. The development team includes a cognitive scientist, a mathematics educator, teachers and scientists. The issues and challenges of interdisciplinary instruction will be investigated.

Changing Curriculum, Changing Practice

This project is studying the impact of implementing a NSF-funded, high school mathematics curriculum that emphasizes mathematical habits of mind. This curriculum focuses on ways of thinking and doing mathematics in contrast with curricula that focus on mathematical topics. The project is studying the development of teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and their capacity to align their instruction with the new curriculum.

Award Number: 
1019945
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Full Description: 

The CME Project Mathematical Practices Implementation Study project (formerly called "Changing Curriculum, Changing Practice"), led by mathematics educators at the Education Development Center, is studying the impact of implementing a NSF-funded, high school mathematics curriculum that emphasizes mathematical habits of mind. This curriculum focuses on ways of thinking and doing mathematics in contrast with curricula that focus on mathematical topics. The project is studying the development of teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and their capacity to align their instruction with the new curriculum. The project includes a moderate level of professional development and the development of valid and reliable instruments to assess teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and their instructional practices.

This four-year, mixed-methods study is investigating the conjecture that high school teachers' implementation of a curriculum emphasizing mathematical habits of mind will lead to measurable changes in teachers' mathematical knowledge and their instruction. The investigators are also interested in the relationships among (1) teachers' prior knowledge, (2) their use of the curriculum and (3) the school-level support for implementation. The investigators are studying the implementation of the curriculum by 70 teachers in 12 schools that vary in socio-economic status of the students and geographic location. The research design includes observations of the instruction of a sub-sample of nine teachers to obtain a finer-grained measure of instructional practice. They are developing or adapting existing instruments that measure teachers' knowledge and alignment of instruction with the goals of teaching mathematical habits of mind. Using the Instructional Quality Assessment rubric during visits to the classroom, they are assessing students' opportunities to develop mathematical thinking skills. The use of mixed-methods approaches will allow the researchers to analyze the data from multiple perspectives.

This study is part of a long-term effort to help high school students develop specific mathematical habits of mind. The current study is building on previous curriculum development and also developing insights for future studies investigating students' adoption of mathematical habits of mind. The current project is an important effort to understand the roles teachers play in implementing curricular changes that have the potential for improving student achievement in mathematics. Teachers are the critical bridging agents who connect curriculum and learners. This study will help to explain how teachers' knowledge, teachers' instruction, and teachers' contexts within schools contribute to or detract from the faithful implementation of the goals intended by a curriculum. It will lay a foundation for understanding future efforts to assess what students learn and how they learn it.

Pre-K Early Algebra Through Quantitative Reasoning (PreKEA)

This project is initiating an innovative approach to pre-K students' development of quantitative reasoning through measurement. This quantitative approach builds on measurement concepts and algebraic design of the pre-numeric stage of instruction found in the Elkonin-Davydov (E-D) elementary mathematics curriculum from Russia. The project team is adapting and refocusing the conceptual framework and learning tasks of the E-D pre-numeric stage for use with four-year-olds.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1212766
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Full Description: 

This is an exploratory project that endeavors to initiate an innovative approach to preK students’ development of quantitative reasoning through measurement. This quantitative approach builds on measurement concepts and algebraic design of the pre-numeric stage of instruction found in the successful Elkonin-Davydov (E-D) elementary mathematics curriculum from Russia. The PreKEA project will adapt and refocus the conceptual framework of the E-D pre-numeric stage with respect to early algebra in the context of teaching experiments with preK and kindergarten students. A primary goal of the project is to obtain a proof-of-concept and lay down a conceptual and empirical foundation for a subsequent full research and development DR K-12 proposal.

The importance of early algebra (EA) in mathematics education has been acknowledged by the publication of a separate chapter solely devoted to early algebra and algebraic reasoning in the second Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning (Lester, 2007). Given that “much prior research highlights the difficulties that middle and high school students have with algebra,” the proponents of EA argue that “the weaving of algebra throughout the K-12 curriculum could lend coherence, depth, and power to school mathematics, and replace late, abrupt, isolated, and superficial high school algebra courses” (Carraher & Schliemann, 2007, pp. 670-671). At the same time, “quantitative thinking is unavoidable in EA” as it “does not seem realistic to first introduce youngsters to the algebra of number and then proceed to problems steeped in quantities as ‘applications’ of algebra” (ibid., p. 671). While the E-D curriculum with its proven track record focuses on the development of quantitative and measurement reasoning among elementary-aged children in grades 1–6, it is feasible that much younger children, even four-year-olds, can access the pre-numeric ideas. This is supported by research by Baillargeon (2001) and Wynn (1997) who showed that infants as young as two-months old demonstrate the development of number and measurement concepts. The PreKEA project will identify key concepts of the E-D pre-numeric stage relevant to four-year-olds and develop and explore lesson units which can be integrated into US preK settings. The project team combines the international expertise of PI Berkaliev who served as project coordinator and international liaison for an NSF-funded international project US-Russian Working Forum on Elementary Mathematics: Is the Elkonin-Davydov Curriculum a Model for the US? and who also brings the perspective of a mathematician, with the theoretical, methodological, and empirical expertise of co-PI Dougherty who has been one of the leading figures in working with, adapting, and studying the implementations of the E-D curriculum in the US, as well as a group of five leading Russian experts who developed, implemented, and studied the original E-D curriculum. The project resources include the E-D curriculum materials and articles only available in Russian.

The PreKEA (PreK Early Algebra through Quantitative Reasoning) project has the potential to make contributions beyond the preK early algebra curriculum that it will develop and implement. The PreKEA project can benefit disadvantaged students by using an innovative approach to EA instruction that has the potential to broaden access and at an early stage change the situation when disproportionately many disadvantaged students are not prepared adequately for learning quantitative reasoning and algebra. With research in preK narrowly focused on particular topics, the results of this project have the potential to inform a broader field including mathematics education and early childhood education with evidence that young children can access and interact with more complex mathematics, extending beyond counting.

Developers and researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology and Iowa State University are initiating an innovative approach to pre-K students' development of quantitative reasoning through measurement. This quantitative approach builds on measurement concepts and algebraic design of the pre-numeric stage of instruction found in the Elkonin-Davydov (E-D) elementary mathematics curriculum from Russia. The project team is adapting and refocusing the conceptual framework and learning tasks of the E-D pre-numeric stage for use with four-year-olds. The adaptation is being done in collaboration with experts in Russia who were involved in the original E-D development. A primary goal of the project is to obtain a proof-of-concept and lay down a conceptual and empirical foundation for a subsequent research and development.

The research progresses using teaching experiments involving six students. Each student is engaged in 15 minute one-on-one sessions twice each week. Sessions are videotaped and transcribed for further analysis. The analysis of the data is conducted by the project team in collaboration with Russian consultants.

The research findings and methodology will provide grounds for supporting more complex and sophisticated mathematical ideas that will inform curriculum development for pre-K students and teachers. Results will be published and reported widely.

Using PISA to Develop Activities for Teacher Education (UPDATE)

This project uses items and data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) to develop two kinds of resources for preparation and professional development of secondary mathematics teachers: one in the form of prototype professional learning materials and a second in the form of PISA-based, research-grounded articles written for mathematics teachers and teacher educators. Work on both resources will focus on algebra and quantitative literacy and on factors influencing educational equity.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1019513
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Full Description: 

The UPDATE project seeks to enable significant advances in K-12 teacher and student learning of mathematics by using of items and data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in ways that enhance the work of mathematics teachers and teacher educators. We hypothesize that PISA can be useful to the field in much the same way as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which has long served as a key source of information for the mathematics education community. In contrast to NAEP and TIMSS, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in the area of mathematics has received little or no attention within the U.S. mathematics education community, beyond noting that the performance of U.S. students is mediocre compared to that of students in many other countries in Asia and Europe. A consequence of the lack of attention to PISA in the U.S. is that we have underutilized a potentially valuable source of information for improvement of mathematics education.

In this project we use PISA as a base to develop resources for mathematics educators to use in teacher education settings. One type of resource comes in the form of prototype professional learning materials that provide opportunities for teachers and students to analyze complex mathematical tasks and student responses to those tasks, focusing on both the mathematics entailed in the task and the understandings of mathematics reflected in students’ responses. The materials will be designed to engage teachers in individual and collaborative inquiry aimed at developing their specialized content knowledge and their pedagogical content knowledge. Materials will be field tested in preservice and inservice teacher professional education settings and also shared at regional and national meetings. A second type of resource comes in the form of PISA-based, research-grounded articles written specifically for mathematics teachers and teacher educators and published in journals that reach these audiences. The articles will be informed not only by our experiences in developing and using the prototype materials, but also by the findings of selected secondary analyses of data collected in the 2003 PISA assessment.

Our work is organized around three distinct focus areas: (1) Algebra – a traditional content topic familiar to mathematics teachers that can be approached in a novel way through PISA tasks; (2) Quantitative Literacy – a nontraditional content topic less familiar to mathematics teachers that can be accessed directly through PISA tasks, and (3) Equity – an issue of import to mathematics educators that can be examined carefully using PISA data. In each component our work blends research inquiry and development, integrating the analysis of tasks and data from the PISA mathematics assessment with the creation of prototype teacher education materials and the preparation of PISA-based, research-grounded articles for teachers and teacher educators.

The results of this exploratory study will be disseminated broadly, and they are likely to generate new activity in research and development related to PISA. Mirroring the tradition of the interpretive reports of NAEP results, we will produce PISA-based resources that can have a significant impact on the mathematics education community as teachers, teacher educators, and graduate students examine the materials and reports we produce and use them to improve the quality of teacher and student learning of mathematics.

This exploratory project led by faculty from the University of Michigan uses items and data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) to develop two kinds of resources for preparation and professional development of secondary mathematics teachers. One type of resource comes in the form of prototype professional learning materials that provide opportunities for teachers and students to analyze complex mathematical tasks and student responses to those tasks, focusing on both the mathematics entailed in the task and the understandings of mathematics reflected in students' responses. A second type of resource comes in the form of PISA-based, research-grounded articles written specifically for mathematics teachers and teacher educators. Work on both resources will focus on the critical content areas of algebra and quantitative literacy and on factors influencing educational equity.

The project is driven by the hypothesis that PISA assessment instruments and findings can be useful to teachers in much the way that prior analyses of NAEP frameworks, items, and data have been. To address the first project objective, the research team will use selected PISA items and student responses to those items to design, develop, and test a collection of professional learning tasks that engage mathematics teachers in individual and collaborative inquiry aimed at enhancing their specialized content knowledge and their pedagogical content knowledge. To address the second project objective, the research team will prepare articles for practitioner journals that will be informed by experiences in developing and using the prototype materials, but also by the findings of selected secondary analyses of data collected in the 2003 PISA assessment.

The results of this work will be a collection of resources for use in various teacher preparation and professional development settings to stimulate thinking of secondary mathematics teachers about issues of curriculum content, student learning, teaching, and assessment.

Using Routines as an Instructional Tool for Developing Students' Conceptions of Proof

This project will develop and systematically investigate a teaching model to assist teachers in developing ideas about proof in grades 2-5. The teaching model provides both a tool for learning on the part of elementary teachers and a model of practice from which they can learn as they implement it.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1019482
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Megan Franke
Full Description: 

Developers and researchers at TERC, the Education Development Center, and Mount Holyoke College are participating in the development and systematic investigation of a teaching model to assist teachers in developing ideas about proof in grades 2-5. The teaching model provides both a tool for learning on the part of elementary teachers and a model of practice from which they can learn as they implement it.

The project is a teaching experiment in which the model is iteratively implemented and refined, first with teachers experienced in incorporating ideas about proof into their classroom instruction (Phase 1), then with teachers who are relatively inexperienced, both in their own understanding of proof and in their knowledge of how their students can learn about proof (Phase 2). Research questions focus on developing the components of the model, the learning of teachers as they implement the model, and the learning of students as they engage in the instruction that is guided by the model, with particular attention to students with varied histories of achievement in grade-level work on number and operations.

The expected outcome is a teaching model that can be tested on a larger scale as well as instruments for assessing student learning and teacher understanding of proof. The model includes printed material with descriptions of the routines and instructional sequences, guidelines for implementing each component, and a teaching framework as well as written and video case examples.

Algebra: A Challenge at the Crossroads of Policy and Practice

This project is reviewing and analyzing policy documents and studies related to Algebra I learning and teaching, in order to (1) gain a better understanding of algebra education in the United States; and (2) conduct an accounting of research questions that have and have not been taken up by policy documents to date. The results are to be disseminated to both the mathematics education research community and to the education policy community.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0960581
Funding Period: 
Mon, 03/01/2010 to Mon, 02/28/2011
Full Description: 

A team led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh is reviewing and analyzing policy documents and studies related to Algebra I learning and teaching, in order to (1) gain a better understanding of algebra education in the United States; and (2) conduct an accounting of research questions that have and have not been taken up by policy documents to date (i.e., what we know and what we need to know). The results are to be disseminated to both the mathematics education research community and to the education policy community. Further discussion and dissemination is planned through an invitational conference in Washington, DC. The findings will also be used to set a research agenda for algebra learning and teaching.

CAREER: Supporting Students' Proof Practices Through Quantitative Reasoning in Algebra

The aim of this project is to explore the hypothesis that a curricular focus on quantitative reasoning in middle grades mathematics can enhance development of student skill and understanding about mathematical proof. The project is addressing that hypothesis through a series of studies that include small group teaching experiments with students, professional development work with teachers, and classroom field tests of curricular units that connect quantitative reasoning and proof in algebra.

Award Number: 
1743356
Funding Period: 
Mon, 03/15/2010 to Fri, 06/30/2017
Full Description: 

The aim of this CAREER project led by Amy Ellis at the University of Wisconsin is to explore the hypothesis that a curricular focus on quantitative reasoning in middle grades mathematics can enhance development of student skill and understanding about mathematical proof. The project is addressing that hypothesis through a series of studies that include small group teaching experiments with students, professional development work with teachers, and classroom field tests of curricular units that connect quantitative reasoning and proof in algebra.

Work of the project will produce: (a) insights into ways of unifying two previously disconnected lines of research on quantitative reasoning and proof; (b) models describing realistic ways to support development of students' proof competencies through quantitative reasoning; (c) improvement in students' understanding of algebra through engagement in proof practices based on quantitative reasoning; (d) insights into middle-school students' thinking as they negotiate the transition from elementary to more advanced mathematics; and (e) increased understanding of teachers' knowledge about proof and their classroom practices aimed at helping students progress towards understanding and skill in proof.

This project was previously funded under award #0952415.

Engaging Secondary Students and Teachers Through a Proficiency-Based Assessment and Reassessment of Learning Outcomes (PARLO) System in Mathematics

This project is researching the efficacy of a learning and assessment system that emphasizes students' attaining proficiency or better on a limited set of high value learning objectives in Algebra.

Award Number: 
0918474
Funding Period: 
Thu, 03/01/2012 to Thu, 02/28/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Research for Better Schools
Full Description: 

Using a clustered randomized control trial of 44 secondary schools in the greater Philadelphia area, the project is researching the efficacy of a learning and assessment system that emphasizes students' attaining proficiency or better on a limited set of high value learning objectives in Algebra and Geometry. The study allows for and expects students to resubmit assignments and be reassessed until they achieve proficiency or greater. In this new classroom dynamic, students assume more responsibility for and be active agents in their own learning. For their part, teachers will adopt instructional strategies and techniques that support their students' ongoing and continuous learning, including defining learning outcomes, providing frequent and individualized feedback, and participating in professional development.

The research questions are: 1) Does the use of proficiency-based assessment and reassessment of learning outcomes (PARLO) in Algebra lead to increases in secondary students' achievement and engagement in mathematics? 2) Does PARLO lead to increased student interest in pursuing more complex mathematics or science courses? Two cohorts of ninth grade students are being followed.

Mapping Developmental Trajectories of Students' Conceptions of Integers

This project is using data from interviews with 160 K-12 students and 20 adults to describe common understandings and progressions of development for negative number concepts and operations. The project is motivated by the widely acknowledged finding that students have difficulty mastering key concepts and skills involved in work with integers.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918780
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/15/2009 to Sun, 07/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
West Ed (Juan Carlos Bojorquez)
Full Description: 

The project Mapping Developmental Trajectories of Students' Conceptions of Integers, led by faculty from San Diego State University, is using data from 160 interviews with K-12 students and 20 adults to describe common understandings and progressions of development for negative number concepts and operations. The project is motivated by the widely acknowledged finding that students have difficulty mastering key concepts and skills involved in work with integers.

Two questions frame and guide the proposed research:

* What are students' conceptions of integers and operations on integers?

* What are possible developmental trajectories of students' understandings?

The investigators are seeking answers to those questions through structured interviews with students in elementary grades prior to instruction about negative numbers (Grades 2 and 4), students in middle grades whose formal learning experiences have already included explicit instruction about integers (Grade 7), high school students who are expected to use prior knowledge about integers in more advanced mathematics (Grade 11 PreCalculus and Calculus students), and adults who use integers in their work.

In addition to providing an empirically-based picture of ways that students reason about negative numbers, the project is producing useful interview protocols and a reliable and valid assessment instrument for describing the understanding and skill of students at various stages on such a progression.

Both the characterization of common learning progressions and the assessment instruments will be broadly useful to curriculum and test developers and teachers in K-12 mathematics classrooms.

Introducing Dynamic Number as a Transformative Technology for Number and Early Algebra

This project operationalizes research in number, operation, and early algebra. It builds on the paradigm of Dynamic Geometry (the interactive and continuous manipulation of geometric shapes and constructions) with a new technological paradigm, Dynamic Number, centered on the direct manipulation of numerical representations and constructions. Using The Geometer’s Sketchpad as a starting point, KCP Technologies is developing new software tools to deepen students’ conceptions of number and early algebra in grades 2–8.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918733
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
John Olive

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