Examining Research Support for a Digital, Blended Learning Mathematics Curriculum


A key goal for today’s mathematics classrooms is enabling teachers and technology to work together to enhance student learning. That’s easy to say, but not so easy to do; design and implementation of effective blended learning approaches is challenging. SRI Education examines research on digital and blended approaches to mathematics to help educators make sense of this important and complex market. (See some of our prior reports in the links below.)

Recently, we had an opportunity to review 12 research papers about an approach called Reasoning Mind, which serves about 100,000 students per year in several states. We are now in the midst of conducting a large efficacy trial of Reasoning Mind as a 5th grade mathematics curriculum in West Virginia, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. The results from that study are not yet in. The research review considered 12 earlier studies conducted by non-SRI evaluators.

SRI’s goals were to summarize what the research says and to understand the strength of the evidence. Because these individual research studies had different qualities, we organized the review by the kinds of claims each study best supports.

The dimensions we report on include:

  • Impact on student achievement. Four well-designed studies showed positive and significant effects on students’ learning.
  • Quality of design. The design of the Reasoning Mind approach aligns well with features that are important to overall product quality; for example, we note ways in which the curriculum underlying Reasoning Mind strives for coherence and focus.
  • Teacher and student attitudes. Many of the research papers offered evidence of positive attitudes towards Reasoning Mind among both teachers and students who use the program.
  • Engagement. Both in our own classroom observations and in the research papers, student engagement with the math program was found to be high.
  • Implementation. A series of reports written by the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) presented data about their large-scale implementation, which is reaching more than 25,000 students. The DISD reports show that Reasoning Mind can be implemented at this scale and that quality of implementation improves over time.

When considering Reasoning Mind and other digital, blended learning approaches to teaching mathematics, we advocate examining multiple dimensions such as these. Of course, impacts on student learning are important. In addition, we have often found that approaches which work in small, carefully chosen settings turn out to be hard to implement more broadly. Hence, looking at quality of design, teacher and student attitudes, engagement and data from implementation in large districts is also important. After the 2015-16 school year, we look forward to sharing rigorous results from the randomized, controlled trial now underway in West Virginia.

Download the Report

  • Strength of Research for Reasoning Mind

Links to Prior Reports

  • Using Technology and Evidence to Promote Cultures of Educational Innovation: The Example of Science and Mathematics Education
  • Scaling a Technology-Based Innovation: Windows on the Evolution of Mathematics Teachers’ Practices
  • Implementation of an Intelligent Tutoring System for Online Homework Support in an Efficacy Trial
  • Blended Learning Report
  • Research on the Use of Khan Academy in Schools: Implementation Report

Read more from SRI