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Research Project Aims to Build Better Math Texts

As teachers dig into implementing new standards in mathematics, a federal research project is working to make their curricular materials more effective at getting content across.

A five-year, $10 million project by the National Research and Development Center on Cognition and Mathematics Instruction is field-testing how to apply cognitive-science findings on how students learn. In randomized controlled experiments in 17 states, researchers are testing changes to one of the most popular middle school math-textbook series, Pearson’s Connected Mathematics.

Teams of researchers from WestEd, Carnegie Mellon University, Temple University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute are testing potential revisions to the Connected Mathematics curriculum materials for grades 6 to 8, based on the federal Institute of Education Sciences’ practice guide, “Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning.”

Research teams are testing better text and illustration integration, use of sample problems, and homework and practice pacing. They are also looking at how well teachers are trained to implement the curriculum.