Investigations – what do the experts say?

Below are links to research, studies, and papers on Investigations from experts in math dependent fields, college professors, and others.


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Review of Mathematical Soundness by W. Stephen Wilson

http://www.sbe.wa.gov/documents/ReviewofMathematicalSoundness.pdf

In this report Dr Wilson examines several key areas in mathematics and assesses how various different curricula, including Investigations, address those areas.  Please read his entire report as it conveys quite a bit of information about why specific areas are important to mathematical understanding and how each contributes to a sound instructional program.  His summary assessment of Investigations, taken directly from his report states the following:

TERC Investigations

The necessary components of whole number multiplication are there, but the connecting thread is not. Finally, fluency with the standard algorithm is not developed.

In the area thread, there is no formula for the area of a rectangle although it is computed. Parallelograms and triangles are not considered.

Addition and subtraction of fractions using common denominators is not done.

While Dr Wilson’s report is rather benign, his personal opinions on TERC Investigations are nothing short of astounding.  At a June 11, 2008 presentation before the Frederick County, MD school board Dr Wilson said the following:

“I am not really here today to talk to the Board, but to the parents. If your child goes to a school that uses TERC Investigations, you should understand that it means your child’s school has abdicated its responsibility to teach your child mathematics. By doing so, the responsibility now rests with the parents. Good luck.”

http://www.frederickeducationreform.com/terc/fred.pdf

In case anyone was wondering, Dr Wilson reviewed version 2.

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Dr. Bill Quirk holds a PHd in mathematics from New Mexico State University and is one of the leading opponents of TERC Investigations.  Dr Quirk  has completed in depth reviews of both version 1 and 2 of TERC and has assessed TERC against the recommendations of the NMAP.  He concluded that, TERC has achieved their “easy to learn” objective by eliminating the content that’s necessary for later success in algebra” .  His full review and other assessments can be found at the link below.

http://www.wgquirk.com/TERC2008.html

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Still wondering what Constructivism is and why it’s not the best approach to teaching children?  Check out this study by Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark entitled Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work.

The most interesting conclusion from the authors of this study (bolding mine) :

After a half-century of advocacy associated with instruction using minimal guidance, it appears that there is no body of research supporting the technique. In so far as there is any evidence from controlled studies, it almost uniformly supports direct, strong instructional guidance rather than constructivist-based minimal guidance during the instruction of novice to intermediate learners. Even for students with considerable prior knowledge, strong guidance while learning is most often found to be equally effective as unguided approaches. Not only is unguided instruction normally less effective; there is also evidence that it may have negative results when students acquire misconceptions or incomplete or disorganized knowledge.

http://www.cogtech.usc.edu/publications/kirschner_Sweller_Clark.pdf

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