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National Research & Development Center on Cognition & Mathematics Instruction (Math Center)

WestEd’s National  Research & Development Center on Cognition & Mathematics Instruction is redesigning an existing mathematics curriculum in ways that will substantially improve student outcomes.

The Center is using what is currently known about improving the acquisition, retention, and transfer of knowledge — cognitive science principles — to redesign a mathematics curriculum, and is evaluating the efficacy of the revised curriculum to determine whether it improves students’ mathematics achievement.

We are using the 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 Math Center brings together an experienced and accomplished cross-disciplinary team of cognitive researchers, assessment and measurement experts, mathematics instruction specialists, curriculum writers, professional developers, and national advisors to conduct a set of interrelated studies that inform the redesign of mathematics education curricula.

We 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 our 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 Center team is:

  • Applying research on cognition to systematically revise existing curriculum for grades 6-8.
  • Producing (creating, testing, revising, disseminating) guidelines and exemplars for the design and/or revision of research-based mathematics curricula.
  • 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 the Center’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.