Campus News

UGA education researchers receive national award for developing measurement of math problem-solving

Athens, Ga. – A team of University of Georgia education researchers has received a national award for the development of a statistical method for measuring the growth of students’ problem-solving skills in mathematics. This new method enables researchers to simultaneously measure both the different ways that students can reason about individual questions on a mathematics test and their overall growth in mathematics ability.

The researchers were named recipients of the 2011 Award for an Outstanding Example of an Application of Educational Measurement Technology to a Specific Problem from the National Council on Measurement in Education.

The team included UGA College of Education professors Allan Cohen, director of the Georgia Center for Assessment, and Seock-Ho Kim; lead author Sun-Joo Cho, a UGA doctoral graduateand assistant professor of educational psychology at Vanderbilt University; and Brian A. Bottge, the William T. Bryan Endowed Chair in Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Kentucky.

Current methods for detecting growth of students’ skills in math by score-level analysis may fail to reflect subtle changes that might be evident at the item level, said Cohen.This new method combines an analysis of individual performance on each test question, coupled with methods that provide a deeper analysis of the differences in reasoning that students use to answer each test question.

The team published two articles in 2010 describing how item-level changes could be measured using data from a multiwave experiment with a teaching method called Enhanced Anchored Instruction. EAI is a method specially designed for developing the math skills of low-achieving adolescents, including students with learning disabilities in math.

One article, “Latent Transition Analysis with a Mixture Item Response Theory Measurement Model,” appeared in the journal, Applied Psychological Measurement. A second article, “Detecting Cognitive Change in the Math Skills of Low-Achieving Adolescents,” was published in the Journal of Special Education.

The award will be presented to Cohen and his group at the NCME’s annual conference in April in New Orleans.

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