Roschelle,J., Tatar, D. , Shechtman, N., Hegedus, S., Hopkins, B., Knudsen, J., Stroter, A. (2007). Can a Technology-enhanced Curriculum Improve Student Learning of Important Mathematics? (SimCalc Technical Report 1). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.
This project investigated the scale-up of an innovative integration of technology, curriculum, and teacher professional development aimed at improving mathematics instruction in grades 7 and 8.
Middle school is an important transition point for students’ school trajectories1 and middle school mathematics sets the stage for future careers in science. Starting in middle school, mathematical concepts become increasingly crucial to understanding scientific concepts and are considerably more difficult than mathematical concepts in elementary school. International comparison research shows
that although U.S. fourth-grade students compare favorably, eighth-grade students fall behind their foreign peers, particularly in their mastery of complex, conceptual mathematics, a cause for concern about the preparation of students for careers in science.
Among middle school mathematical concepts, proportionality ranks high in importance, centrality, and difficulty and is recognized as such in both mathematics standards and learning research. Proportionality is at the core of the concepts of rate, linearity, slope, and covariation. Without understanding rate and proportionality, students cannot master key topics and representations in high school science, such as laws (e.g., F = ma, F = -kx), graphs (e.g., of linear and piecewise linear functions), and tables (e.g., interpolating between explicit values relating the width and length of maple leaves).