University of Connecticut
Center for Research in Mathematics Education
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Center for Research in Mathematics Education Research

Current Research Projects


Project Empower: A Pilot Study Investigating Students' Learning of Basic Multiplication Facts and Strategies

Project M2: Mentoring Young Mathematicians

Project M3: Mentoring Mathematical Minds

The Calculus Project: What Does it Mean to Understand the Calculus?


PIs: Megan Staples & Mary Truxaw

Academic Content and Communications Equals Student Success

Math ACCESS is a one-year research grant project funded by the State Department of Higher education. Math ACCESS aims to enhance student mathematical understanding by focusing on verbal and written discourse. ACCESS teachers will participate in a week-long ACCESS Summer Institute and then work collaboratively to design and implement higher order thinking (H.O.T.) math lessons that support student participation in explaining, justifying, and problem solving throughout the academic year.

The ACCESS Project is grounded in three critical areas related to classroom discourse and student learning: students’ academic language; explanation and justification; and access for all students to rigorous mathematics. A focus on academic language entails deliberate attention to developing students’ ability to articulate their thinking and express ideas and results mathematically. Justification is at the core of mathematics and students’ participation in this important practice not only leads enhances student learning, but also creates an environment where students exchange their ideas, use mathematical reasoning as support for an argument, and create new understandings. The idea of access for all students is important in any classroom, as there necessarily is a range of different learners and students’ background. The goal is to organize instruction and develop a classroom environment so that all students participate in rigorous mathematics and are seen as capable contributors to the class’s mathematical thinking.

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Project Empower: A Pilot Study Investigating Students’ Learning of Basic Multiplication Facts and Strategies

PI: Tutita Casa

Project Empower is a research project piloting the efficacy of an intervention that differentiates the learning of basic multiplication facts by having individual students focus on the facts they need to learn, self-analyze what facts they already know and need to learn, choose from a collection of engaging activities addressing multiple intelligences and levels of challenge, and address the learning of all basic multiplication facts in a condensed and sustained time period. Project Empower aims to build upon students’ conceptual understanding of multiplication to encourage the automaticity of the basic multiplication facts where students concentrate on the relationships among facts. Specifically, the study will investigate how well students learn their basic multiplication facts, what strategies they use to recall these facts, and how they feel about their knowledge of and use of their strategies as a result of participating in Project Empower.

Project M2: Mentoring Young Mathematicians

PI: M. Katherine Gavin

Co-PI: Tutita Casa

Project M2 is a five-year curriculum and research grant (2007-2012) funded by the National Science Foundation. The goals of Project M2 include the following:

  • Increase the mathematics achievement of all students in grades K-2;
  • Develop students’ understanding of geometry and measurement content and processes;
  • Target the participation of traditionally underrepresented students in advanced mathematics curriculum, including minorities, those from low SES backgrounds, and second language learners; and
  • Support young students’ real-world experiences in mathematics with science applications.
These goals will be accomplished through the development of six curriculum units, two at each grade level, that foster inquiry and engage students in critical thinking, problem solving, and communication. One unit at each grade will focus on geometry and the other on measurement. A communication model for verbal and written discourse will complement the units.

Units will be field tested in schools in Connecticut, Kentucky and Texas with a focus on low-income urban populations. Pre- and post-assessment measures include the mathematics sections of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and open-ended performance-based tasks in the targeted content areas. These will be administered to both the students in the field test and a comparison group of students from the same schools who do not receive the intervention. A website will be created to support teachers, parents, and students and to disseminate research results.

Project M3: Mentoring Mathematical Minds

Project M3 is a 5-year $3,000,000 research grant project to nurture math talent in elementary students funded by the U.S. Department of Education Jacob K. Javits Students Education Act.  Goals of the project include creating a series of 12 challenging and motivational curriculum units for students with mathematical promise; providing extensive ongoing professional development for teachers; increasing mathematics achievement and attitudes towards mathematics in talented and diverse students; and narrowing the gap in math achievement for students with mathematical promise from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, those with limited English proficiency, and minorities. Two cohorts of approximately 200 students each from 11 schools in Connecticut and Kentucky comprise the math talent pool for the intervention group.  Another cohort of approximately 200 talented students from the same schools serves as the comparison group.  Results show:

  • highly significant gains from pre or post testing on all math concepts across both low and high SES schools;
  • highly significant gains from pre to post testing for all math sections on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and on open-ended questions based on the TIMSS and NAEP assessments;
  • highly significant differences in gains on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and the open-ended items favoring the Project M3 cohort of students over a similar comparison group who were not in the project.

The Calculus Project: What Does it Mean to Understand the Calculus?

Description to come.




Neag School of Education
Center for Research in Mathematics Education
249 Glenbrook Road, Unit 2064
Storrs, Connecticut 06269-2064
Phone: (860) 486-____
Fax: (860) 486-____