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Allison M. Park

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Comparing the Cognitive Demand of Traditional and Reform Algebra 1 Textbooks

Darryl Yong
Second Reader(s)
Stacy Brown (Pitzer)


Research has shown that students achieved higher standardized test scores in mathematics and gained more positive attitudes towards mathematics after learning from reform curricula. Because these studies involve actual students and teachers, there are classroom variables that are involved in these findings (Silver and Stein, 1996; Stein et al., 1996). To understand how much these curricula by themselves contribute to higher test scores, I have studied the cognitive demand of tasks in two traditional and two reform curricula. This work required the creation of a scale to categorize tasks based on their level of cognitive demand. This scale relates to those by Stein, Schoenfeld, and Bloom. Based on this task analysis, I have found that more tasks in the reform curricula require higher cognitive demand than tasks in the traditional curricula. These findings confirm other results that posing tasks with higher cognitive demand to students can lead to higher student achievement.


Equity in Math Education

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