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The Scaling Up SimCalc Project

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Nicole Schechtman

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Background
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. The SimCalc approach integrates teacher professional development, curriculum and software called SimCalc MathWorlds.

The project builds on an almost 30-year research program. Dr. James J. Kaput, Ph.D. of the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth designed the SimCalc program in the late 1980s to achieve his vision of "democratizing access to the mathematics of change," i.e., making concepts of proportionality, linearity and rates of change accessible to middle school students of all cultural and demographic backgrounds. Through use of interactive software, the SimCalc program advances student learning of proportionality beyond the traditionally taught cross-multiplication procedure.

The SimCalc MathWorlds Software and Curriculum
[Download the pdf below to view this information]

Documented Results
Across three large-scale studies in the state of Texas, we replicated a strong main effect demonstrating that SimCalc enables a wide variety of teachers in a diversity of settings to extend students’ learning to more advanced mathematics. In each study, teachers in the treatment group taught with a 3-week replacement unit that used the MathWorlds software; the control group taught the same content using their traditional curriculum. For the seventh-grade study, the seventh-grade quasi-experiment (delayed treatment teachers across years 1 and 2), and the eighth-grade study, the main effects were statistically significant and showed that students in the treatment group (or year 2) learned more than students in the control group (or year 1). Student-level effect sizes of .63, .50, and .56, respectively. [For more information on the documented results, download the pdf below]
 

Scaling and Adaptation within the US and Beyond
While the first study took place in the state of Texas, we have since successfully scaled and adapted our approach for use in the state of Florida and the UK. The Cornerstone Maths project adapted our curriculum for grade 8 students for students in England’s key stage 3 (similar to middle school), showing comparable results in learning.

For More Information
For publications and free downloads of software and curricula: http://math.sri.com/