Impact of Curriculum Reform: Evidence of Change in Classroom Instruction in the United States
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International Journal of Educational Research
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The purpose of the study reported in this article is to examine the impact of curriculum on instruction. Over a three-year period, we observed 579 algebra-related lessons in grades 6–8. Approximately half the lessons were taught in schools that had adopted a Standards-based mathematics curriculum called the Connected Mathematics Program (CMP), and the remainder of the lessons were taught in schools that used more traditional curricula (non-CMP). We found many significant differences between the CMP and non-CMP lessons. The CMP lessons, emphasized the conceptual aspects of instruction to a greater extent than the non-CMP lessons and the non-CMP lessons emphasized the procedural aspects of instruction to a greater extent than the CMP lessons. About twice as many CMP lessons as non-CMP lessons were structured to use group work as a method of instruction. During lessons, non-CMP students worked individually on homework about three times as often as CMP students. When it came to text usage, CMP teachers were more likely than non-CMP teachers to work problems from the text and to follow lessons as laid out in the text. However, non-CMP students and teachers were more likely than CMP students and teachers to review examples or find formulas in the text. Surprisingly, only small proportions of the CMP lessons utilized calculators (16%) or manipulatives (11%).