Open Problems and Supports Project

Promoting Productive Disciplinary Engagement and Learning with Open Problems and 'Just-In-Time' Supports for Middle School Mathematics Project

The goal of this project is to study how the use of a new problem format in a digital platform can promote inquiry-based mathematics learning and engagement.

Inspired by the STEM disciplines that focus on problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration, the project is using CMP’s STEM Problem Format to more closely align with a STEM environment.

In the new format, the Initial Challenge contextualizes the problem while What If…? provides the opportunity to make the embedded mathematics visible. Students take ownership of their learning in Now What Do You Know? As they connect their learning to prior knowledge and consider future payoffs.

"Just-In-Time" supports will give students options for seeking help as they work on an open problem and give teachers the opportunity to generate prompts for students working in small groups. 

The study will contribute new knowledge in mathematics education about how to support students' learning and engagement.

Research Questions

  1. How can productive disciplinary engagement be fostered in digital learning environments with open problems and "just-in-time" support? How can student learning of mathematics be enhanced?
  2. What is the nature of productive disciplinary engagement and student learning of mathematics at key development points in a connected sequence of problems and lesson goals?
  3. What information do teachers draw upon where they use open problems and "just-in-time" supports? How do teachers adapt the supports for specific problems?