University of Minnesota
Driven to Discover

About the Project

The goal of Project MARS is to improve the proportional reasoning skills of seventh-grade students. Our primary research objective is to assess the immediate and long-term effects of a research-based intervention (schema-based instruction, SBI) on students’ proportional reasoning and overall mathematics problem solving. A secondary objective is to assess the immediate and long-term effect of SBI with seventh-grade students when implemented by SBI-experienced teachers.

Supported by an IES, U.S. Department of Education, Goal 2 Research and Development grant, we developed a 6-week curriculum unit (21 lessons on ratios/proportions and percents) that has been tested in four prior studies (conducted in Pennsylvania and Minnesota) and shown to be effective in helping students better understand the concepts of ratio, proportion, and percent and enhance their problem solving skills. Our SBI intervention incorporates several instructional practices. It includes a focus on the mathematical structure of problems, which is highlighted using diagrams to represent the quantitative relationships described in the problem. Explicit problem solving and metacognitive strategy instruction provides students with guidance and structure for approaching unfamiliar problems and for monitoring and reflecting on the problem solving process. An emphasis on multiple solution strategies is another key feature of SBI. These practices correspond with the recommendations articulated in the What Works Clearinghouse’s research synthesis on improving students’ mathematical problem solving performance (Woodward et al., 2012) and address the mathematical practices (e.g., look for and make use of structure, model with mathematics) in the Common Core State Standards.

Our SBI curriculum on ratio/proportion and percent is not only aligned with the MN Mathematics Standards, but also the Common Core State Standards in mathematics. Click here for information on how the SBI curriculum aligns with the Common Core State Standards.

We are currently recruiting seventh-grade math teachers from urban schools within the United States that include substantial diversity in the student population to participate in a large randomized controlled study. This study will replicate the previous research on SBI conducted in Minnesota. We expect the forthcoming replication to speak to the generalizability of SBI effects.


Interested in participating? Click here to learn more about the study.

Revised December 2014

| Project MARS | 56 East River Road | Minneapolis, MN 55455-0345 USA | Tel: 612-624-6034 | Fax: 612-626-7116

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Last modified on November 27, 2013.