Collaborative Research: Advancing Equity and Strengthening Teaching with Elementary Mathematical Modeling

  • Turner, Erin E. (PI)
  • Anhalt, Cynthia C. (CoPI)
  • Smith, Deborah D. (PI)
  • לובין, יעל (CoPI)

Project Details


Students bring many mathematical assets to the classroom from their life experiences in their cultures and communities, particularly with respect to being able to model real-world situations in their everyday lives with mathematics. Many equity-related challenges in students' communities can be understood through the use of mathematics and specifically the use of mathematical modeling (the analysis of complex real-world situations using mathematical resources and tools). Supporting teachers to make use of mathematical modeling in the elementary classroom to advance issues of equity will require targeted teacher professional development (PD). Advancing Equity and Strengthening Teaching with Elementary Mathematical Modeling is a teacher PD project focused on strengthening K-5 teaching with mathematics modeling. Building on previous foundational work around mathematics modeling and equity, this project will bring together equity oriented teaching practices and mathematical modeling to design and research the impact of a blended PD program on teacher practice. The project will include video-enhanced reflection and online mentoring in addition to face-to-face components of PD. Using five pivotal spaces for elementary mathematics modeling as a framework, the project will explore the ways in which tools and structures that support practices aligned with pivotal spaces in mathematics modeling lessons can help teachers advance equitable participation and develop student competencies in mathematics modeling. The project will engage in cycles of design-based implementation research (DBIR) to study the relationships between features of the PD and changes in teacher practice, understandings, and dispositions.

The project will deploy a blended PD model that includes face-to-face sessions, coaching, and video-based reflection. Three DBIR cycles will be undertaken, starting with case study-based design cycles, focused PD cycles facilitated by project staff, and full-scale PD cycles facilitated by teacher leaders. Sites in four states have been recruited that represent a wide range of contexts and student demographics. Six professional learning modules related to elementary math modeling will be created. The project will use the lesson observation protocol known as M2C3-Scan to assess changes in teacher practice, conduct student pre and post assessments of mathematical modeling competencies for students in grades 3-5 and formative assessments of mathematical modeling competencies for all students, and assess beliefs and confidence of teachers teaching mathematical modeling. The project team will also interview teachers, collect implementation logs, and use a teacher-annotated video reflection platform to analyze changes in classroom practice. Repeated measures analyses will be conducted on student learning data, with cycles of qualitative analyses related to understand changes in teacher practices, competencies, and beliefs.

The Discovery Research preK-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date1/01/1030/04/24


  • United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF)


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