Research on Teaching and Learning

High quality research is a fundamental first step in finding out how today’s students are best able to learn science, mathematics, and technology and how instructional, curricular, and assessment strategies and materials can best support their learning. Project 2061 began by applying the available research on student learning to guide its development of grade-level learning goals in Benchmarks for Science Literacy (1993). Research also provided the basis for Project 2061’s criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of science and mathematics textbooks and the alignment of assessment items with benchmarks and standards.

Project 2061 is now leading two major research efforts that will contribute significantly to our understanding of science and mathematics teaching and learning. With a $5.8 million grant from the Interagency Education Research Initiative (IERI), Project 2061—in partnership with the University of Delaware and Texas A&M University—is studying how to provide, on a large scale, the professional development and continuing support teachers need to improve student learning of key ideas and skills in middle-grades mathematics.

Paper Presented at AERA Annual Meeting

A paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) April 14, 2009, reports on new findings from Project 2061’s Interagency Education Research Initiative (IERI) study of middle school mathematics.

Read the March/April 2009 article in Project 2061 Connections and link to the full text of the paper. [PDF, 204KB]

And through the National Science Foundation’s Centers for Learning and Teaching program, Project 2061 has received a $9.9 million five-year grant to establish a Center for Curriculum Materials in Science, working in collaboration with Michigan State University, Northwestern University, and the University of Michigan. In addition to developing new graduate and postdoctoral programs in curriculum materials development, the new Center will conduct pioneering research on the design and use of effective curriculum materials for science learning.

Key Initiatives

Center for Curriculum Materials in Science
The Center for Curriculum Materials in Science (CCMS) is a partnership of AAAS, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, and the University of Michigan. It is focused on the analysis, design, and use of science curriculum materials.

Improving Learning in Middle Grade Mathematics
Through a jointly funded program, and in partnership with two universities, Project 2061 is investigating how best to coordinate teaching practices, curriculum materials, and professional development to improve student learning in Middle Grades mathematics.


Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Benchmarks for Science Literacy is the Project 2061 statement of what all students should know and be able to do in science, mathematics, and technology by the end of grades 2, 5, 8, and 12. The recommendations at each grade level suggest reasonable progress toward the adult science literacy goals laid out in the project's 1989 report Science for All Americans.

Science for All Americans
Science for All Americans defines science literacy and lays out some principles for effective learning and teaching. In coherent prose, it articulates and connects fundamental ideas in science without technical vocabulary and dense detail.

Dialogue on Early Childhood Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education
Dialogue on Early Childhood Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education represents some of the latest thinking about early childhood science, mathematics, and technology education. It brings together 11 papers on wide-ranging topics commissioned by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Resources for Science Literacy: Professional Development
This is Project 2061’s first CD-ROM tool and the first professional development tool in science to focus on standards-based teaching and learning. Resources offers a wide array of materials designed to provide educators with a deeper understanding of how to help their students achieve science literacy.


Less Is More: Trimming the Overstuffed Curriculum
Through a science curriculum "diet," districts discover that less topics could fatten students' understanding. Instead of forcing students to digest more and more content and vocabulary as science continues to advance, experts recommend a science curriculum "diet" to help take a bite out of the nation's current science achievement woes.

Solving the Equation: Project 2061 Studies Factors That Improve Student Learning in Mathematics
Project 2061’s evaluation of middle-grades mathematics textbooks indicates that some materials have high potential for improving student learning, but empirical study is needed to show how these materials—and professional development related to these materials—can actually support effective teaching practices and improve student learning.

Meetings & Conferences

Technology Education Research Conference
Participants from science education, technology education, and cognitive science convened in December 1999 to discuss the role of research in technology education. Technology was discussed from a wide range of perspectives, including its relationship with science and society, the notion of design, control mechanisms, materials, energy, and communication. In April 2001 a second technology conference was held to build on the high-priority research issues identified in the first conference.

AAAS Conference on Improving Science Textbooks through Research and Development

Policy & Student Learning: What Textbooks, Assessment, and Professional Development Can Contribute
In our continuing effort to significantly improve student learning in science, mathematics, and technology, Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science hosted a conference that focused on state and district policies that influence student learning. The conference, the third in a series of Project 2061 conferences dedicated to improving science textbooks and curriculum, examined policies that affect the quality of materials used to instruct and assess students and the professional development available to teachers.

Elsewhere on the Web