One of our graduate research assistants, Robyn Pinilla, shared a preview of some findings that emerged from our cognitive interview data for the SMU 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition in November 2020. The 3MT is a competition of graduate scholars founded by the University of Queensland. It has spread worldwide, often starting at individual universities with winning students advancing to regional and national competitions. You can read more about SMU’s 3MT hosted by the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies here.
Robyn presented information on a progression of spatial reasoning skills with specific examples of real-world applications and impact. She advanced from the preliminary round to the finals, sharing meaningful details about shape composition to a generalist audience of students, professors, and others interested in the research done at SMU by the graduate student body. Her presentation, titled “Progress is a Process: Shape Composition as a Micro-progression of Spatial Reasoning,” can be viewed below.
RME researchers reconvened with Dallas-Fort Worth area teachers to co-design a guide that teachers will use to select from a portfolio of formative assessments for their kindergarten through second grade students. These teachers shared important practitioner insights for the MMaRS research project, from which researchers will create formative assessments of numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning. The Teacher Advisory Panel, also knowns as TAP, provides ongoing support to the RME research team to ensure the results of the assessments the researchers are building and their accompanying resources will be useful to guide teacher’s instructional decision making and support student learning of these constructs.
During the session, teachers participated in a desirability test activity in which they chose words from a bank to describe their immediate reactions to each page of a five-step process outlined in a prototype of the learning progression and assessment selection guide. (Learning progressions will form the basis of the formative assessments.)
Next, teachers collaborated with the research team on a virtual co-design exercise, where two small groups of teachers iterated to re-design the prototype guide based on their classroom experiences. The picture above shows reactions from teachers based on the visual appeal of one of the pages. The picture below shows how teachers provided feedback on how to reorganize the document. The RME research team will use the information from the TAP work session—as well as multiple other sources of data—to build the teacher resources and formative assessment items for the MMaRS project.
The MMaRS team presented a poster during the online adaptation of the Third Annual Conference of the Mathematical Cognition and Learning Society on October 2, 2020. An important step of gleaning information about K-2 students’ reasoning abilities on tasks associated with our spatial reasoning learning progression was presenting tasks that were understandable to children and feasible to assessors. This work provided a more complete picture of how an iterative development process informed the development of tasks, improved interview flow and experience, and garnered sufficient data to conduct meaningful quantitative and qualitative analyses of the sessions. Further, this online presentation facilitated by the MCLS through Twitter reached audiences that would have previously not had access to the dissemination efforts afforded by a place-based conference.
RME researchers convened two work sessions in July with ten Dallas-Fort Worth area teachers to learn more about their formative assessment needs with their kindergarten through second grade students. These teachers’ experiences and perspectives provide important insights for the MMaRS research project, from which researchers will create formative assessments of numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning. The Teacher Advisory Panel, also knowns as TAP, provides ongoing support to the RME research team to ensure the results of the assessments the researchers are building will be useful to guide teacher’s instructional decision making and support student learning of these constructs.
During the first session, the teachers participated in focus group discussions with the research team to share their insights, understanding, and reactions to the concept of learning progressions. (Learning progressions will form the basis of the formative assessments.) Next, teachers collaborated with the research team on a virtual design charette exercise, where rotating groups of teachers designed their ideal testing scenarios based on their classroom experiences, including wants and needs. A snapshot of one group’s design is shown in the picture above. The RME research team will use the information from the TAP workshop sessions—as well as multiple other sources of data—to build the instructional tools and formative assessment items for the MMaRS project.
Through the generous support of NSF, Research in Mathematics Education is working to study two early predictors of mathematics success in K-2 students; numerical relational reasoning and spatial reasoning. By better understanding student thinking through a series of one on one interviews, researchers are developing learning progressions (also known as concept maps) which order and link the sequence in which learning happens. Through this understanding of student thinking, assessments will be developed which will assist teachers in gathering data and identifying gaps as students learn the concepts of numerical relational reasoning and spatial reasoning.
RME’s award winning video “Developing STEM Access in Students K-2 through MMaRS” illustrates the iterative nature of our research through prototyping classroom tasks which elicit student thinking. Researchers describe how we develop learning progressions and elementary leaders articulate the importance of an assessment to identify student thinking gaps and guide teacher instruction.
The MMaRS team submission, led by PhD student Robyn Pinilla, prepared a poster presentation focused on the iterative design process used to gather validity evidence for K-2 mathematics assessments. The purpose of these assessments is to measure student understanding and skills in numeric relational reasoning and spatial reasoning. Both these foundational concepts are developmentally important for K-2 students. The assessments developed from this work can guide teacher instructional practices.
During the fall of 2019, the MMaRS team conducted cognitive interviews centered on Spatial Reasoning to help provide evidence for the MMaRS Spatial Reasoning Learning Progressions. Collecting these data helped us investigate the ordering, conceptualization, and interconnectedness of the MMaRS Spatial Reasoning Learning Progressions. Cognitive interview protocols were carefully crafted to probe students’ reasoning skills for each of the spatial skills identified on the learning progressions. The MMaRS team conducted a small number of “try-outs” with children in Grades K-2 using the cognitive interview protocols. These “try-outs” provided insight into any refinements that needed to be made to the protocols before collecting data from a larger number of students during the winter of 2020. Thank you to all of our research participants!