Current IES funded research


Teaching Through Problem-Solving As a Resource for U.S. Elementary Mathematics Teachers

Funded by U.S. Education Department, Institute of Education Sciences
September 2011 – August 2014

Project Overview

This 3-year project, funded by the national Institute of Education Sciences, supports collaboration with a network of U.S. elementary educators to build “Teaching Through Problem-Solving” (“TTP”) in selected sites across the U.S.. TTP is an approach widely used in Japan to support students’ development of mathematical practices at the same time as mathematical content. In TTP, major new mathematical content is typically introduced through in-depth focus on solving a single, carefully-selected mathematical problem. Routine classroom instruction builds students’ use of prior knowledge, systematic organization of data, connection of symbolic and concrete representations, and other mathematical practices so that students are able to solve such novel problems. Many features of TTP daily classroom instruction support students’ agency and capability as mathematics learners, including regular presentation and analysis of student solution methods, “neriage” (kneading) discussion that draws out key mathematical ideas from students’ solution approaches, systematic use of the blackboard to organize mathematical ideas from the students, questioning and summary strategies that promote students’ metacognitive reflection and student journaling.

Years 1 and 2 of the project (fall 2011-fall 2013) focused on translation and development of TTP materials, and use and refinement of these materials by lesson study teams in 6 sites across the U.S., collaborating in a network. Year 3 (currently underway during the 2013-14 school-year) includes 72 additional upper-grade elementary teachers (Grades 3-5) interested in using TTP as a way to build the student mathematical practices entailed in the Common Core State Standards. Year 3 participants were randomly assigned to a TTP or waitlist condition, and asked to select and share sample videos from their classroom practice focused on building student mathematical practices. In addition, participants in both groups have been asked to use materials made available to their random-assignment group through an online network to develop lesson plans and implement classroom lessons in two focus areas: area of polygons and fractions. All teachers and students participating in the project during Year 3 took part in pre- and post- surveys that focused on mathematical knowledge for teaching and beliefs about instruction (teachers) or problem-solving capacity and mathematics attitudes (students). Data collection will continue through the end of the 2013-14 school year and findings should be available beginning in Fall, 2014.

Focused and Coherent Elementary Mathematics: Adapting a Japanese K-2 Curriculum for Use in the United States

Funded by U.S. Education Department, Institute of Education Sciences
September 2011 – August 2014

Project Overview

This project is designed to translate and adapt a leading Japanese elementary mathematics curriculum to the U.S. Common Core State Standards, and to test it in six sites across the U.S.. The curriculum is Tokyo Shoseki’s Mathematics, the most widely used curriculum in Japan. The curriculum is being implemented in kindergarten classrooms during the 2012-13 school-year and in grade 1 classrooms during the 2013-14 school-year. Lesson study is used at the sites as a professional development tool to support curriculum implementation and as a source of formative data to guide revisions of the curriculum, and teachers are encouraged to think carefully about pedagogy that may support curriculum implementation, such as use of the white board, student mathematics journals, and mathematics games. Teacher surveys and student assessments will provide additional data on the impact of the curriculum. Teams implementing the curriculum at the six sites also participate in a virtual network where they share know-how and challenges related to implementation. The international version of the curriculum can be accessed at Global Ed Resources. We anticipate that the translated teacher’s edition to accompany the curriculum for grades K-5 will be available for purchase (through a partner organization) beginning in Fall 2014. Data collection will continue through the end of the 2013-14 school year and findings should be available beginning in Fall, 2014.