Transform Your Classroom with Trending Mathematics Research

Researchers are constantly looking to identify best practices in math instruction to make math engaging, challenging, and beneficial for students. As Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month quickly approaches, we are reminded that every learner deserves the opportunity to enjoy mathematics instruction and to feel empowered by their math knowledge. Here are a few of our favorite trends in mathematics research with supporting resources to help you create a fresh, innovative learning environment in your classroom:

Equity in Mathematics

Truly equitable learning environments require all students to have access to meaningful, rigorous, and relevant math instruction. Cathy Seeley, math educator, thought leader, and former NCTM, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, president, remarks:

“A culture in which all students appreciate the contributions of every other student not only promotes problem solving, but also makes a strong statement that equity is valued in our classrooms.” (1)

Equity in mathematics is multifaceted, including a positivity focus, family engagement, student inclusivity, group work, and communication. The links below, including work from Cathy Seeley, provide a variety of strategies for promoting equity in mathematics.

Math Workstations: Purposeful Fluency Practice

Math educators are no strangers to using workstations in the classroom. However, tying workstations to purposeful fluency practices often poses a new challenge. Dr. Nicki Newton, author, and education consultant, explains:

“Math workstations work not only on developing conceptual understanding but also on developing problem-solving, reasoning, modeling, communicating, using tools, using precise language and calculations, and understanding structure and looking for patterns.” (2)

Students with strong math fact fluency have speed, efficiency, accuracy, and flexibility within their designated level of learning. Creating a space where a students’ fluency is purposefully targeted helps not only to build confidence but also to develop those key factors: speed and efficiency, propelling the student to the next level. We encourage you to read Dr. Newton’s purposeful practice research in the resources below, along with other helpful sources for generating math fluency.

Rigor in Mathematics

Rigor in mathematics is also multifaceted, including concept understanding, procedural skills, fluency, and equivalent application intensity. According to former NCTM president, Linda Gojak:

“When selecting tasks, teachers must be sure that mathematical ideas are explicit and the connections are clear. The days of a few word problems at the end of multiple skill exercises in the textbook are over!” (3)

Rigorous instruction should do the following: challenge students, have a focus on quality (rich) tasks, and have a multitude of paths to the solution. Check out Gojak’s works on rigor below and also be sure to check out our article about rigor in high school math.

Just like mathematics, equity, purposeful fluency practice, and rigor are complex and have multiple paths to the same solution. Implementing these research trends can certainly help create a fresh, innovative learning environment in the classroom.

Interested in hearing more from these thought leaders or more about mathematics research trends? We will be hosting author sessions at NCTM 2019 by Cathy Seeley, Linda Gojak, Nicki Newton, and more! Session topics include:

  • Equity in Mathematics
  • Number Sense Routines
  • Ask This, Not That! Questions That Promote the Three Components of Rigor in Working with Fractions
  • Number Lines
  • Curiosity Driven Mathematics
  • Math Workstations in Action: Purposeful Fluency Practice
  • Using Formative Assessment to Understand and Support Young Children’s Spatial Reasoning

Click here for information on these sessions at NCTM.


(1) Turning Teaching Upside Down, Cathy Seely, Educational Leadership

(2) Math Workstations: Purposeful Practice By Nicki Newton, Ed. D.

(3) What’s All This Talk About Rigor?, Linda Gojack, NCTM