Research News

Study: IES-funded research improves quality of math education

child writing math on blackboard

Vanderbilt professor Bethany Rittle-Johnson has co-authored an in-depth review of the impact of mathematics education research studies funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

Rittle-Johnson, professor of psychology and human development at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development, and Nancy C. Jordan, professor in the School of Education at the University of Delaware, evaluated the impact of more than 200 peer-reviewed IES-funded studies by 69 authors (2002­–2013).

Bethany Rittle-Johnson
Bethany Rittle-Johnson

In the report, “Synthesis of IES-Funded Research on Mathematics: 2002–2013,” the authors concluded there are 28 distinct contributions that the IES grants have made in furthering the understanding of K-12 mathematics teaching and learning.

“The first 11 years of IES-funded research has greatly extended our knowledge about how students learn mathematics and how to improve mathematics outcomes for all students,” the authors said. “With IES funding, researchers have developed and evaluated effective instructional strategies and materials for teaching all students and specialized interventions for those who are struggling. It has also supported development and evaluation of teacher professional development that is necessary for teachers to improve.”

A few of the contributions include:

  • Identifying students at-risk for math difficulties;
  • Teaching students cognitive strategies for solving word problems;
  • Using computer-based tutoring for individualized math instruction;
  • Using synthetic speech to make algebra more accessible to visually impaired students;
  • Creating teacher professional development systems that help create a supportive and safe learning environment; and
  • Identifying barriers to effective teacher professional development.

The full report can be found on the IES website.