National Center on Cognition and Mathematics Instruction
Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education
The National Center on Cognition and Mathematics Instruction (NCCMI) at WestEd is redesigning an existing mathematics curriculum in ways that will substantially improve student outcomes.
Specifically, WestEd researchers are evaluating how revisions to a widely used middle school mathematics curriculum, the Connected Mathematics Project, 2nd edition (CMP2), affect student learning.
NCCMI brings together an experienced and accomplished cross-disciplinary team to conduct a set of interrelated studies that inform the redesign of the mathematics education curriculum. The team comprises cognitive researchers, assessment and measurement experts, mathematics instruction specialists, curriculum writers, professional developers, and national advisors.
NCCMI researchers are working closely with CMP, one of the largest publishers of mathematics curriculum materials, to ensure that the findings from the study are translated into future editions of curriculum materials.
In addition to NCCMI's collaborative partnership with the developers of CMP, WestEd is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University; Temple University; University of Illinois, Chicago; University of Wisconsin, Madison; Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Pearson; and Apple Computer, Inc.
The NCCMI team is:
- Applying research on cognition to systematically revise an existing curriculum for grades 6-8
- Producing (creating, testing, revising, disseminating) guidelines and exemplars for the design and/or revision of a research-based mathematics curriculum — the Connected Mathematics Project
- Conducting experimental research on the effects of the specific curricular changes on student achievement, engagement, and motivation
- Conducting supplementary research to inform practice in the area of mathematics curriculum, instruction, and assessment
- Establishing a diverse community of users to learn from and apply NCCMI's research
- Providing national leadership for the use of knowledge related to cognition and the application of research-based design principles for mathematics curriculum and instruction
- Disseminating products, models, research tools, and other results through publication, presentations, and technical assistance
This five-year project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.
Math Center researchers will address the following questions in the CMP efficacy studies.
Effects on Student Learning in Middle School Mathematics
- Does the intervention improve student performance, as assessed by state accountability tests and measures of the knowledge, skills, and understandings in the content area addressed in the instructional materials?
- If the experimental condition produces higher levels of performance, what aspects of performance are most and least affected? For example, are differences greater in declarative knowledge, concepts, or procedures?
- Does the intervention show differential impacts on student performance for traditionally low-performing subgroups, including English language learners, as well as different impacts for males and females?
Effects on Student Engagement in Learning and Motivation in Middle School Mathematics
- Does the use of the intervention influence students' engagement with the curriculum, as measured in teacher and student surveys and in classroom observations? Are there changes in student motivation in math, as indicated by measures of efficacy and interest in the topic area addressed, as well as attendance during the period of instruction?
- Does the intervention show differential impacts on engagement and motivation for traditionally low-performing subgroups and for males and females?
Moderating Variables That Influence Effectiveness
- To what extent do the effects of the intervention vary across important characteristics of teachers, classrooms, and students?
- To what extent do teachers' background knowledge and experience interact with the intervention in predicting student learning and attitudes?
- Are there identifiable variations in intervention implementation that influence effects on learning and/or attitudes?
Researchers are using cognitive science principles to redesign the widely used Connected Mathematics Project (CMP) middle school math curriculum and conduct multiple studies to determine the impact on student achievement resulting from these curriculum modifications.
The research and evaluation strategy consists of two components:
- A series of randomized controlled experiments (RCTs) aimed at examining the effects of revised curricular units with 50 participating teachers in grades 6 and 8
- A large-scale, school-level random assignment efficacy study in grade 7 to examine the redesigned CMP in 78 schools
Key Findings or Outcomes
Study results will be available following the 2015 study completion date.