The Center has conducted an intensive, nationally coordinated research program ó in collaboration with teachers ó to advance effective reform of K-12 mathematics and science.
Charged by the U.S. Department of Education in 1995 to build a solid research base about ways instruction can be improved, Center researchers have worked with teachers and diverse student populations to develop new mathematics and science learning environments and professional development models. They investigated:
The Centerís work has yielded classroom-based findings about effective instruction and new professional development models for sustained student learning and achievement in mathematics and science.
Significant results indicate that diverse students can excel in classrooms that support inquiry and exploration. These also provide insight about ways that teachers and schools can be better supported in their efforts to advance student learning and achievement.
Building on earlier research
The Centerís research and professional development work has built on more than two decades of studies conducted by researchers affiliated with several institutions, including:
Supporting students' learning with understanding
The Center's research has aimed to identify ways that students can learn mathematics and science with understanding. To this end, researchers designed and evaluated instruction that can enhance students' abilities to connect ideas and concepts and apply what they know to new situations and phenomena. Researchers reasoned that these abilities, in addition to students' mastery of basic skills, are vital for students facing an increasingly complex world.
During America's industrial age, mathematics and science instruction was designed to meet the demands of citizens whose work lives changed relatively little over their lifetimes. In the 21st century, the situation has changed dramatically. Our society has become technologically and information-driven, and our students need to know more than the basics in mathematics and science to cope with accelerating changes.
Ideally, schooling should enable students to reason competently, think constructively, and understand key ideas in mathematics and science. The Center's work has aimed to identify ways that schools can prepare students to comprehend and manage new information, technologies, and ever more complex problems as these emerge throughout their lifetimes. This aim has driven our in-class studies and close examination of student understanding, assessment strategies, and teachers' practices.
Connecting research with practice and standards
Center researchers have played key roles in the development of standards for mathematics (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) and science education standards (National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council). They also have developed curricula and professional development programs related to those standards (e.g., Mathematics in Context and Cognitively Guided Instruction).
In addition, Center researchers have contributed directly to the development of new forms of assessments (e.g., Organization of Economic and Cultural Developmentís PISA), and have worked with technical assistance organizations like the North Central Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Consortium (NCEMSC) at Learning Point Associates, Midwest Comprehensive Regional Assistance Center and the Phoenix Systemic Initiative to deliver professional development programs and a multimedia product based on Center researchersí work.
Center researchers have analyzed results from eight years of in-class research and professional development work. Findings and principles have been summarized in a book, Understanding Mathematics and Science Matters (in press 2004 at Earlbaum publishers) ? and in several journal articles, book chapters, and the Centerís multimedia product, Powerful Practices in Mathematics and Science. A brief summary of emergent research-based principles is below. See also the Centerís publications page.
For example, we have found that:
Findings about Student Achievement
What is student achievement? Center research clearly has shown that student achievement involves much more than the ability to solve textbook problems, learn facts, or pass current versions of standardized tests. Achievement means that students should be able to:
Research has indicated that:
Center studies have indicated that it is feasible to introduce school children to powerful ideas in mathematics and science as early as the primary grades. Our research thus compels a close examination of what is traditionally considered appropriate school mathematics and science.
Findings about Teacher Professional Development
Center researchers worked from the premise that teachersí knowledge of student thinking is a cornerstone of professional development. In our work with teachers, we have observed the ways that teachers examined student thinking about important mathematics and science ideas, and how their observations about student thinking enhance their classroom instruction and strengthened students' learning.
Research indicates that:
Strategies for creating teacher communities to support inquiry and sustained professional development vary widely, but successful strategies all involve substantial restructuring of schooling to enhance collaboration between teachers and administrators. We have observed that such restructuring can provide teachers the necessary resources to conduct practical inquiry in their classrooms and to share the results of their learning with their colleagues and community.
Findings about School Structures that Support Teacher Change
Just as we have found that teacher professional development and communities are crucial for long-term reform, we have also found that the creation and maintenance of such communities is influenced by the supports provided by schools and districts.
Our research indicates that:
Because teachers often find it difficult to manage the added time burdens that leadership and participatory decision-making require, designs for reform will need to include means for reducing other aspects of teachersí obligations.