Research from cognitive and learning sciences is highly applicable to education, but translating research into practice can be challenging. How can different recommendations from research be integrated and applied in classroom settings? Do research-based modifications improve student learning outcomes in mathematics?

The National Research & Development Center on Cognition & Mathematics Instruction, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, examined these questions by redesigning a widely used middle school mathematics curriculum and leading a large-scale evaluation of the revised curriculum’s impact on student learning.

Read more about these efforts in an article available online in The Journal of Experimental Education written by Jodi Davenport, Yvonne Kao, Bryan Matlen, and Steve Schneider of WestEd’s Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics program.


How can research findings from cognitive and learning sciences be meaningfully applied in authentic settings to improve student learning outcomes in mathematics? Decades of basic research on how people learn has implications for the design of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. However, bringing research to practice involves simultaneously applying multiple design principles and raises pragmatic challenges of classroom contexts.

Our project used research-based recommendations to systematically revise a widely used middle school mathematics curriculum and investigated whether the revised curriculum improved student learning in mathematics. In this article, we detail a replicable process for operationalizing and implementing multiple research-based principles and report findings from a large-scale experimental evaluation of this approach to estimate the potential impact on student learning.

Access the full article, “Cognition Research in Practice: Engineering and Evaluating a Middle School Math Curriculum.”

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