Math education project works to address student needs

A School of Education team is working with local middle school teachers to tailor instruction to students’ learning needs

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Teaching math in middle school can pose unique challenges.

A team from the School of Education has been working with local middle school teachers to work through those challenges while improving how math is taught. The project, IDR2eAM, which stands for Investigating Differentiated Instruction and Relationships between Rational Number Knowledge and Algebraic Reasoning in Middle School, is now in its fifth year.

The project addresses an urgent need in education: how to meet the learning needs of an increasingly diverse student population, according to Amy Hackenberg, associate professor for mathematics education.

“Secondary math classrooms are places you are least likely to see differentiated instruction, and so that is one reason we are working with middle school students and teachers,” she said.

The project is in its fifth year and will continue for one more. Currently, Hackenberg co-teaches for around five to six weeks with a middle school math teacher at a local middle school. The teachers and project team members are also working to differentiate instruction for students, meaning they’re tailoring instruction to students’ learning needs while also aiming to develop a cohesive classroom community.

Outcomes of the project include a greater understanding about how students learn rational numbers and algebraic reasoning, as well as a framework for differentiating mathematics instruction in middle school.

IDR2eAM is funded by a Career grant from the National Science Foundation.