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IES Contract

Title: Graspable Math Activities: Increasing Algebra Proficiency with Dynamic Notation Technology
Center: NCER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Weitnauer, Erik R. Awardee: Graspable
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (6/26/2019 – 6/25/2021) Award Amount: $900,000
Goal: Phase II Development Award Number: 91990019C0034

Project Website:

Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Purpose: In this project, the team will fully develop and test a web-based product that provides real-time feedback as students engage in Algebra I and II exercises. This product will complement an interactive touch-based Algebra application developed with prior IES funding. Success in algebra relates to eventual college graduation rates and employment earnings, yet few students reach an advanced understanding of algebraic notation.

Project Activities: During Phase I in 2018, the team developed a prototype that provides students real time support as they progress through Algebra I exercises. At the end of Phase I, researchers completed a pilot study with 48 students and two teachers in grade 9 classrooms. The prototype operated as intended when students completed problems and teachers were able review results from student work on a reporting dashboard. As well, the team found a positive correlation between student problem solving in the prototype and algebra content-related posttest scores.

In Phase II, the team will fully develop the user interface so that it is both engaging and reduces student anxiety. They will test the reliability of the real-time feedback engine, populate the content library, and finalize the teacher formative assessment dashboard. After development is complete, the researchers will complete a pilot study to examine the product's usability and feasibility, fidelity of implementation, reliability and validity, and promise to increase student Algebra I and II learning. The study will include 40 grade 9 classes with 800 students (20 students per class). Half of the classes will be randomly assigned to use Graspable Math Activities and the other half will complete business-as-usual activities. They will compare student scores on standardized pre- and post- learning outcomes for Algebra I and II. The team will gather cost information using the "ingredients method" and will include all expenditures on things such as personnel, facilities, equipment, materials, and training.

Product: Graspable Math Activities is web application that middle and high school students use on laptops and tablets to practice algebra and receive instantaneous feedback. Activities are based on an algebra notation technology that can promote procedural fluency while allowing students to focus on strategy and the connection between concepts and procedures. The team will produce a website that will include a dashboard to provide teachers with formative assessment results to inform practice, a library of algebra activities organized by standards and grades, and professional development modules on how to integrate the app into their classroom practice.