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Learning mathematics in an accessible classroom

“Today, mathematics education faces two major challenges: raising the floor by expanding achievement for all, and lifting the ceiling of achievement to better prepare future leaders in mathematics, as well as in science, engineering, and technology. At first glance, these appear to be mutually exclusive” (Research Points, 2006, p.1). But are they? Is it possible to design learning that engages the vast majority of students in higher mathematics learning?

The purpose of this study is to determine whether the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) result in increased student mathematical proficiency and achievement for all students in a Grade 7 classroom, including those with identified learning needs.

Alberta students consistently score very well on international (PISA, TIMSS) and national (SAIP) mathematics studies1. Given such high international and national standings, many might question why Alberta Education would be interested in ensuring even higher achievement for all students in the area of mathematics. Perhaps this can be best explained by a brief conversation that Dr. Friesen had with an individual from Alberta Education’s Assessment Branch. In discussing Alberta’s success on the recently released PISA 2006 findings, in which Alberta scored second only to Finland, this person stated, “We still have work to do. There is no place to stand still. If you are standing still you are actually going backwards.”

This research study is designed to encourage continued conversation about going forward with mathematics education in this province, particularly in terms of:

  • better meeting the needs of Alberta’s increasingly diverse student population;
  • reducing the number of students who give up on the study of mathematics.

To learn more click here to visit the Inside an Accessible Math Classroom website.

Research Reports:

Friesen, S., Clifford, P., Francis-Poscente, K. & Martin, B. (2008). Learning mathematics in an accessible classroom: Research report. Available at the links above.