Assessing the Impact of Standards-based Curricula: Investigating Students’ Epistemological Conceptions of Mathematics

Abstract:

Since the advent of the NCTM Standards (1989), mathematics educators have been faced with the challenge of

assessing the impact of Standards-based (or “reform”) curricula. Research on the impact of Standards-based

curricula has predominantly focused on student achievement; here we consider an alternative: Students’

epistemological conceptions of mathematics. 297 participants were administered a Likert-scale survey

instrument, the Conceptions of Mathematics Inventory. Of these, 163 had not experienced Standards-based

curricula, while the rest had used a Standards-based curriculum for over three years. Our results indicate that

students at the Standards-based site expressed more sophisticated epistemological conceptions of mathematics

than those of the students from the non-Standards-based site. We interpret this result to suggest that

implementation of Standards-based curricula may be having an effect on students’ epistemological conceptions

of mathematics.

Last modified: 30 July 2012.

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