The overall objective of the Phase II research and development work proposed herein is to commercialize a bank of core example problems for FluidMath, the use of which will increase student understanding of basic math principles and improve their scores on math tests. Fluidity Software, Inc., developed FluidMath as an educational software platform which enables teachers and students to create, solve, graph and animate math problems using an electronic stylus on the screen of a Tablet PC or an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) via their own hand-written math symbols and sketches. Fluidity recently released Version 1 of FluidMath for use as an intervention for basic algebra curricula. In Phase I of the study linked to this Phase II proposal, Fluidity built prototype core example problems for FluidMath that included teacher recommended functionality which optimized the didactic features of FluidMath. Classroom use of these example problems impacted student understanding of math principles and improved student performance as demonstrated by higher test scores. Phase I pilot studies involving 8 teachers and 229 students proved the feasibility of using FluidMath software as a platform upon which basic algebra specific functionality and content can be layered and used for teaching in the classroom. In Phase I, it was shown that when teachers solve example problems in class which optimize the didactic features of the FluidMath platform, student participation in math classes improved and their math scores, on average, increased by about 10% compared to when they were taught with other means. In Phase II, Fluidity, collaborating with the Program Evaluation and Research Group (PERG) at Lesley University, will work with about 36 teachers and about 1200 students and build on a successfully completed Phase I by developing a commercial-grade bank of algebra example problems solved with FluidMath. During Phase II, the research and development team will iteratively develop each example problem and evaluate its research and development work by deploying the example problems with new features and user interface (UI) techniques to receive real-time feedback on student impact from the teachers using these problems in their classes. The product proposed herein, A Bank of Core Example Problems for Teaching Basic Algebra using FluidMath, will provide content for FluidMath aimed at improving student performance. The bank will include about 75 core problems comprising solutions and explanations created by software developers, math education experts, expert teachers and practicing math teachers. The bank of problems will cover basic algebra curricula and will comprise commercial grade software suitable for sale to, and widespread use by, middle and high school teachers and students. At the end of Phase II, Fluidity will have a robust product suitable for widespread use that, because of its unique functionality, has the potential to revitalize the teaching of math in our nation's schools and improve students'math scores.
The research conducted in this project will help to develop effective instructional technologies for mathematics education and will provide a foundation for exploring how mathematical sketching on pen-enabled computers such as Tablet PCs and Interactive Whiteboards can improve the learning process.