A Research Overview
The Connected Mathematics Project (CMP) at Michigan State University (MSU) has been working for over 27 years to design, develop, field-test, evaluate, and disseminate mathematics materials for middle school students and teachers. The development of CMP1 and CMP2 was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, including over $9.5 million in curriculum development and research as well as $5.0 million in professional development and teacher support. With CMP1, CMP2, and CMP3, the MSU authors and administration have used the CMP royalties to establish MSU Mathematics Education Enrichment Funds which support research and development in mathematics and science education.
The Overarching Goal of CMP
The overarching goal of CMP is to help students and teachers develop mathematical
knowledge, understanding, and skill along with an awareness of and appreciation for
the rich connections among mathematical strands and between mathematics and other disciplines. The CMP curriculum development has been guided by our single
All students should be able to reason and communicate proficiently in
mathematics. They should have knowledge of and skill in the use of the
vocabulary, forms of representation, materials, tools, techniques, and intellectual
methods of the discipline of mathematics, including the ability to define and
solve problems with reason, insight, inventiveness, and technical proficiency.
Co-Development with Teachers and Students
The unique development process spans repetitive years of design, field trials, and data feedback cycles pictured in the diagram. This includes feedback from teachers, administrators, researchers, parents, and students from across the country. Over 425 teachers and thousands of their students in 54 school district trial sites played a major role in the development of the curriculum. These interactions between teachers and students with the materials are the mostcompelling parts of the materials.
Most Widely Used Middle School Curriculum
CMP is used in all 50 of the United States as well as in China, England, and the United Arab Emirates. The use of CMP in teacher education courses and professional learning settings continues to grow.
Research Findings on CMP
A substantial number of research studies have been conducted since the release of CMP1 in 1996.
150 research articles and reports,
40 books and book chapters,
50 conference proceedings,
70 dissertations and theses, and
25 evaluation studies.
The growing body of published work includes evaluation, efficacy, student reasoning, classroom discourse, and teacher knowledge.
- Compared to their peers using conventional middle school mathematics curricula, students in CMP classrooms achieve greater conceptual gains that require mathematical modeling, mathematical reasoning, and/or careful articulation of mathematical thinking. These gains on a variety of learning measures also show that students do as well or better on procedural skills (Ben-Chaim, Fey, Fitzgerald, Benedetto, & Miller, 1998; Cai, Moyer, Hwang, Nie, & Garger, 2012; Cain, 2002; Conklin, Grant, Rickard, & Rivette, 2006; Eddy, Berry, Aquirre, Wahlstrand, Ruitman, & Majajan, 2008; Reys, Reys, Lapan, Holliday, & Wasman, 2003).
- The effects on student learning performance typically improves more after
multiple years of using CMP within schools (Bray, 2005; O’Clair, 2005; Reys et al., 2003; Tarr, Reys, Reys, Chavez, Shih, & Osterlind, 2008).
- The advantages in conceptual understanding and problem-solving persist as
students enter high school. CMP students performed better than or as well as
non-CMP students on a variety of learning measures (Cai, 2014).
- In a longitudinal study in a large urban area that followed CMP and Non-CMP
middle school students through high school found that significantly greater
percentages of CMP students than non-CMP students maintained a positive
attitude toward mathematics (Moyer, Robison, & Cai, 2018).
- The evidence on successful implementation of problem-centered curricula like
CMP points to the need for consistent and sustained professional development
and collaboration between teachers and administrators in a variety of forms (Heck, Banilower, Weiss, & Rosenberg, 2008). When students learned from CMP teachers with less teaching experience but who attended more professional development and team planning as promoted by CMP, students had higher mathematics scores (O’Clair, 2005).