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I think I stumbled upon the mother lode of math research.

Review of High Quality Experimental Mathematics Research by the National Center to Improve the Tools of Educators (NCITE) of the University of Oregon.

8,727 K-12 mathematics "studies" were reviewed. Only 956 of those passed the minimum threshold requirements. Less than 2% (of the total), 110, met their requirements.

I just started going through it, but there's lots of good stuff in there.

For some reason I can't cut and paste from the pdf.


Out of the 110 valid studies, most appear to be worthless from a "what question was the study trying to answer" aspect.
manipulatives: bad.
Cooperative learning: Good (??).
Discovery learning: generally bad. calculator use: mixed (but the devil is the details based on the summaries).
Direct Instruction: generally good.

Then there's a lot of poorly designed yet scientifically valid studies. The meta-study supposedly controlled for confounding variables, but most of the summaries I read were loaded with confounding variables. So many that I can't see how anyone can take anything away from most of these studies.


8,727 math studies. 2% scientifically valid. Not much learned. No wonder math education is in the state it's in.

-- KDeRosa - 24 Oct 2005


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Hi, Ken,

This is the same review we wrote a bunch about last year before you joined our little tribe. It is a good one and I didn't finish the job of posting what was in it, if you'd like to take a stab at it.

Here's where the trail starts:


-- CarolynJohnston - 24 Oct 2005

Did you ever find a way to edit info from the report?

-- KDeRosa - 24 Oct 2005

No -- I think the pdf is copy-protected.

-- CarolynJohnston - 24 Oct 2005

It's actually encrypted so you can't even unlock it with Adobe Writer. Seems kind of silly to lock up a research paper.

-- KDeRosa - 24 Oct 2005

The perplexing thing is that this study was done by the U of Oregon, the home of Direct Instruction, yet almost DI research isn't included in the study.

-- KDeRosa - 24 Oct 2005

I could swear there was some in there, wasn't there?

-- CarolynJohnston - 24 Oct 2005

some, but very little.

-- KDeRosa - 24 Oct 2005

It really is perplexing, the way Direct Instruction is marginalized & 'invisibled.'

Ed and I have adopted 'teach to mastery' as our mantra.

We're going to unveil it at the upcoming Coffee with Principal Fried.

-- CatherineJohnson - 25 Oct 2005

We've talked about collaborative learning a bit (too lazy to scare up the posts right now).

Once I thought that one over, it made sense.

First of all, collaborative learning also means competitive learning (I'm willing to bet); Christopher is brainier when he's doing math with me AND Marc & Drew, his two friends.

Second, all animals do huge amounts of observational learning (see Alex the parrot) & collaborative learning is going to mean kids watching other kids do math.

I'm sure there are other reasons, too.

Definitely take a look at Irene Pepperberg's work one of these days.

Until she developed a competitive learning situation for her African grey, Alex, no one had been able to teach birds anything.

Researchers all thought birds were incredibly stupid, based on the fact that they refused to learn Thing One in a standard one-on-one Skinnerian set up.

Alex is now at the cognitive level of a normal six year old child, and that's just what we know about him, and can see.

-- CatherineJohnson - 25 Oct 2005

The edu-blob hates DI. There are hit pieces all over the place. One of their main techniques is to marginalize it for only special ed kids.

I would love to see DI properly implemented in an affluent suburban school district with full acceleration for all groups but especially the high performers.

-- KDeRosa - 25 Oct 2005

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