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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


How much extra preparation time will be required if I teach with your curriculum materials?
Our goal is to keep preparation/outside classroom time to a minimum.  The majority of training to use our curriculum materials will occur during the two-day Professional Development. At the conclusion of this training, with minimal additional preparation, you will be ready to teach with our materials.


What is the benefit to my students if I choose to participate in the Project MARS study?
The Project MARS study offers you an opportunity to learn a new method (schema-based instruction, an evidence-based instructional approach) for teaching proportional reasoning, one of the four focused instructional topics in seventh-grade.  As a result, your students will be better prepared to solve problems involving ratios, proportions, and percents.  Findings from our previous studies indicate that the intervention benefits seventh-grade students in diverse classrooms.


May I refer another seventh-grade colleague to the study?
Yes, absolutely. But please emphasize to your colleague that we request participating teachers to make a two-year commitment to the project. Also note that teachers are randomly assigned to cohort 1 (treatment) or cohort 2 (control).  Based on the cohort you are assigned to will determine whether you teach with our materials for one or two years.  All participating teachers will have Professional Development training and the opportunity to teach with our materials, the difference being that some will teach for two (6-week) academic cycles and some for just one (6-week) academic cycle.


My school has Profession Learning Communities (PLCs) meetings weekly.  If a colleague(s) and I are both participating in the Project MARS study but are assigned to different cohorts, how will this impact our PLC meetings?
We recognize that PLCs are an integral part of your professional development and entail best practices in teaching. Project MARS will only impact your PLCs during the first year of participation when each cohort is teaching ratios, proportions and percents using different materials.  For the 6-week period of the Project MARS study, we ask that treatment teachers not discuss specific content with control teachers to avoid any possibility of cross contamination. During the second year of implementation all teachers will teach the same topics using the Project MARS materials. 


How and when will I be paid?
Payment will depend upon your random cohort assignment.  If you are assigned to Cohort 1, you will receive your $300 Professional Development (PD) payment after you complete your two-day training.   (Please note that some school districts may have restrictions regarding how we reimburse you for this amount).  In some cases, we may be required to reimburse you in the form of a gift card vs. cash but whatever the format the amount remains constant across school districts.)  In addition, you will receive your $1,000 stipend in late spring of 2016 after administration of the last assessment.  Likewise, the second installment of the $1,000 stipend for Year 2 participation will be paid in spring of 2017.

If you are randomly assigned to Cohort 2, you will receive your $400 payment in late spring of 2015 after administration of the last assessment. The following fall of 2016 you will receive your $300 Professional Development payment after completing PD training with the remaining $1,000 stipend being paid in late spring of 2017.


What if I have to withdraw from the study at some point due to unforeseen circumstances?
We understand that it may be necessary for some participants to withdraw from the study due to circumstances beyond their control.  If this happens, we will pro-rate your pay based upon your time involved in the study.


How many assessments are my students required to take?
Students will complete two assessments each academic year. Each assessment will be administered before and immediately following the study; in addition, one assessment will also be given at the end of the school year.  Strong research requires multiple measures to make evaluations accurate and fair, but we are also cognizant of your workload and time constraints. On average, each of the assessments will be completed within a single math class (approximately 50 minutes).


If I teach more than one seventh-grade math class, how do I decide which one will participate in the study?
Project MARS requires typical seventh-grade math classes, excluding honors classes and classes where the majority of students have special needs.  If you teach more than one typical seventh-grade math class, we will randomly select one of your classes that will participate in the study.

When a participating teacher has multiple typical seventh-grade math classes, we allow you to use our SBI materials in all of those classes if that helps reduce your class preparation time. However, the individual school would incur the costs related to those materials for classes not participating in the Project MARS study. The cost of our materials is nominal and would include the student workbook and homework book.  If you have an in-house printing option, we can provide you with the electronic version and you can print your own materials to reduce external costs. It is important that you do not share the materials with any of your colleagues.


What would happen if I don’t have a seventh-grade math class the second year?
Our study and subsequent data analysis is contingent upon two year participation and data.  We will ask you and your principal to make every effort to insure that you teach two consecutive years in a typical seventh-grade math class.


Am I responsible to notify the parents/guardians of my students that I am participating in the study?
Project MARS will provide you with a letter that informs parents of their son or daughter’s participation in the Project MARS study. If you have non-native English speakers we will translate the letter into the preferred language.


Can parents and their children decide to ‘opt out’ of participation in the study?
The decisions for adopting curriculum materials and administering tests are similar to instructional activities that school personnel typically endorse and teachers manage without informed consent of students or their parents.  As long as you (with your principal’s approval) agree to participate in this study, parents cannot choose to ‘opt out’ of their child’s participation in this study. The rationale for this is to avoid disruption of classroom instruction and ensure that you (teachers) are not overburdened to design alternative activities for nonparticipating students.

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.