October 2, 2017

A $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to researchers in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development targets the ongoing struggle of U.S. elementary and high school students with math. SMU K-12 math education experts Leanne Ketterlin Geller and Lindsey Perry ’16 will conduct research and develop an assessment system comprised of two universal screening tools to measure mathematical reasoning skills for grades K–2.

“This is an opportunity to develop an assessment system that can help teachers support students at the earliest and, arguably, one of the most critical phases of a child’s mathematical development,” said Ketterlin Geller, principal investigator for the grant.

The four-year project, Measuring Early Mathematical Reasoning Skills: Developing Tests of Numeric Relational Reasoning and Spatial Reasoning, started on September 15, 2017. The system will contain tests for both numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning.

“I’m passionate about this research because students who can reason spatially and relationally with numbers are better equipped for future mathematics courses, STEM degrees and STEM careers,” said Perry, whose doctoral dissertation for her Ph.D. from SMU specifically focused on those two mathematical constructs.

“While these are very foundational and predictive constructs, these reasoning skills have typically not been emphasized at these grade levels, and universal screening tools focused on these topics do not yet exist,” said Perry, who is co-principal investigator.

“Since intervention in the early elementary grades can significantly improve mathematics achievement, it is critical that K-2 teachers have access to high-quality screening tools to help them with their intervention efforts,” she said. “We feel that the Measures of Mathematical Reasoning Skills system can really make a difference for K-2 teachers as they prepare the next generation of STEM leaders.”

Read more at SMU Research.