Teaching mathematics means more than introducing algorithms and procedures to students. Research shows that effective instruction also involves the development of a student’s conceptual understanding, mathematical reasoning, and problem-solving skills.
One research-based approach to mathematics instruction is Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI), as described in Children’s Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction (Carpenter et al., 2014). CGI shifts an educator’s focus away from direct instruction and toward understanding an individual student’s mathematical thinking. The teacher then leverages this understanding as the foundation to guide the student toward increasingly complex concepts.
Now, as online programs gain popularity in today’s classrooms, schools have the opportunity to choose technology that not only supports students’ procedural fluency but also aligns with research-based principles to develop students’ conceptual understanding. By evaluating the technology we bring to students through the lens of a framework such as CGI, we can help ensure that students have the opportunity to develop the skills they need to succeed beyond memorization.
CGI is an approach to teaching mathematics that focuses on students’ critical thinking and problem-solving. Instead of just showing students how to solve a problem, teachers guide students to explore strategies and approaches that make sense from their unique understanding of a situation. The following are just some of the principles of CGI, as highlighted in Children’s Mathematics (Carpenter et al., 2014).
When designed with research-based principles in mind, online programs have the ability to increase accessibility to effective instruction. For example, the following characteristics of various online programs provide the flexibility to support CGI practices.
By incorporating CGI practices with online platforms’ capabilities, we can anchor each student’s learning experience in student-centered, data-driven instruction.
Imagine Math is one supplemental, personalized online program that incorporates the features highlighted above. It presents students with problems, equips them with virtual tools, and adapts its levels of support in response to students’ answers. “Imagine Math’s personalized learning platform aligns with each student’s needs while providing the right amount of challenge to help the student achieve grade-level proficiency,” said Sari Factor, Chief Strategy Officer at Imagine Learning (New Study Reveals Significant Gains in Student Math Performance with Imagine Math, 2023).
This year, a study was conducted to assess the impact of Imagine Math on students’ academic performance. The study analyzed over 4,000 math assessment scores from the Idaho State Assessment Test (ISAT) of students in grades 4 through 8. The assessment scores were taken from schools across four different districts in Idaho during the 2021-22 academic year. Key takeaways from the research include:
These findings underscore the potential of platforms like Imagine Math that align with student-centered methodologies to enhance student outcomes.
In today’s rapidly evolving society, education has significantly shifted due to technological advancements and a more comprehensive understanding of how individual students learn. By leveraging technology that incorporates research-based instruction, educators can create a more engaging and effective learning experience for students, leading to better academic outcomes and a more promising future.
Erin Springer is a former elementary school teacher who transitioned to supporting other teachers as a Professional Development Specialist at Imagine Learning. She is enthusiastic about helping teachers use educational technology to improve student outcomes, save time, and understand students’ needs.
Carpenter, T. P., Fennema, E., Franke, M. L., Levi, L., & Empson, S. B. (2014). Children’s Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction (2nd ed.). Heinemann.
Imagine Learning. (2023, June 20). New Study Reveals Significant Gains in Student Math Performance with Imagine Math [Press release]. https://www.imaginelearning.com/press/study-reveals-significant-gains-student-math-performance-imagine-math/