The research reported in this book focuses on providing reliable evidence on and knowledge about forms of mathematics and science instruction that emphasize student understanding. It responds to the need to shift the conception of mathematics and science instruction in schools from the "assembly-fine" model consistent with the mechanistic views of the nineteenth century to one that is consistent with the dynamic views of the emerging technological world.
To provide the basis for this shift in instructional practices, the National Center for Improving Student Learning in Mathematics and Science, established in 1996 as a research center of the U.S. Department of Education, has been building the foundation for such reform in the United States. These researchers have been working with teachers, students, and administrators to construct leaming environments that exemplify current research and theory about effective learning of mathematics and science, and conducting careful programs of research to learn how instructional content and design, assessment, professional development, and organizational support can be orchestrated to support the learning of ail students. This book presents a summary of the concepts, findings, and conclusions of the Center's research from 1996 to 2001.
In the Introduction, the chapters in Understanding Mathematics and Science Matters are situated in terms of the reform movement in school mathematics and school science. Three thematically structured sections focus, respectively, on research directed toward what is involved when students learn mathematics and science with understanding; research on the rote and problems teachers face when attempting to teach their students mathematics and science with understanding; and a collaboration among some of the contributors to this volume to gather information about classroom assessment practices and organizational support for reform.
The goal of this volume is to help educational practitioners, policymakers, and the general public to see the validity of the reform recommendations, to understand the recommended guidelines, and to use these to transform teaching and learning of mathematics and science in U.S. classrooms.