Title: Collaborative Research: Promoting Productive Disciplinary Engagement and Learning with Open Problems and "Just-in-Time" Supports in Middle School Mathematics.
This is a proposal for a Level II design-based iterative research project addressing research on the STEM learning environment strand of the EHR Core Research program. This project explores two broad hypotheses about how a new digital environment can improve middle school mathematics education:
1) Overall disciplinary engagement and learning in mathematics from diverse classroom settings is enhanced through the use of open problems with “just-in-time” supports, and
2) The “just-in-time” supports provide a mechanism to attend to the particular needs of students as they collaboratively engage in open problems, while maintaining integrity to the goals of the lesson aand the underlying learning progressions.
Representing a unique collaboration, the team consists of experts in mathematics and science curriculum development, educational research, and technology learning environments. The major goal of the proposed work is to study how use of open problems and “just-in-time” supports in a digital platform can promote an inquiry-based classroom environment where students are engaged in making sense of mathematics.
The project has exceptional potential for broad impact. It will build on problem-based curriculum that evolved from extensive development, field-testing and evaluation, and is among the most widely used and studied in the nation.This allows the project potential to contribute new knowledge about productive disciplinary engagement and learning in coherent and connected learning environments.
Extending an existing digital platform used primarily in science education to promote productive disciplinary engagement and learning in mathematics is central to this work. This includes how students engage in uncertainties of the content and practices of mathematics, become authors of mathematics in the classroom, become responsible for their learning, and access sufficient and appropriate resources for learning. The research activities will produce a digital learning space where open problems are linked to “just-in-time” supports designed to attend to the particular needs of students as they collaboratively solve open problems. Therefore, the research activities have the potential to impact how schools use technology effectively to enhance the learning of mathematics.