Project 2061’s IERI Study Examines Teacher Practice and Student Learning in Mathematics

Paper Presented at AERA Annual Meeting

A paper was presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) April 12-16, 2004, in San Diego, California, with a focus on a five-year Interagency Education Research Initiative study that explores the interactions of curriculum materials and professional development and their effect on teachers' classroom practices and on students' achievement in mathematics. You can access the paper here.

Through a five-year study funded by the Interagency Education Research Initiative (IERI), a joint program of the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Project 2061 is helping to identify factors that improve student learning in middle grades mathematics. In partnership with the University of Delaware and Texas A&M University, Project 2061 is examining how curriculum materials, teaching practices, and professional development can best be coordinated to improve student learning of key mathematics ideas and skills.

The study breaks new ground because it is one of the first to take an integrated research approach to the following questions:

  • What is the relationship between the use of research-based instructional strategies and student learning of specific ideas and skills?
  • How does professional development and ongoing support build teacher knowledge, skills, and attitudes and lead to more effective teaching?
  • How can technology help to provide effective teacher professional development and ongoing support cost-effectively on a large scale?

To collect valid data on how teachers use curriculum materials, Project 2061 has developed a Web-based computer program that allows researchers to compare videotaped classroom lessons with the same lessons as they appear in textbooks that received high ratings in Project 2061’s evaluation.

To measure what and how students are learning, the study is using both state tests and specially designed assessment items. Researchers can also make judgments about whether the teachers’ lessons meet criteria for good instruction, such as helping students understand the purpose of the lesson or providing a variety of examples of how the concept or skill can be applied in everyday life.

The study is also documenting the most effective strategies and technologies for delivering professional development and ongoing support to teachers on a large scale. For example, teachers in the study will be able to access classroom lessons, along with materials such as student work samples resulting from the lessons, via the Internet. Ongoing technology-based support makes online discussions possible among teachers in widely separated schools or districts.

Articles about Project 2061's IERI study

Future Forecasts
from the ASCD Education Update

Solving the Equation: Project 2061 Studies Factors That Improve Student Learning in Mathematics (2002)
Tramontana, C.

Project 2061 Study Seeks to Improve Student Learning in Mathematics (2003)
Davis, S.