The Innovation Challenges for Middle School Mathematics Project: In Progress

The SUDDS team is building a set of project-based, innovation challenges aligned to Math-Mapper 6-8’s learning map and underlying learning trajectories. Each challenge places students in the role of STEM entrepreneurs competing in a start-up competition as they research, test, develop, and pitch innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to locally and globally relevant challenges.
Our goal is to increase students’ achievement, affect, and STEM career by making the innovation challenges engaging and mathematically rigorous. By aligning the challenges to the big ideas in middle grades mathematics, we hope to improve students’ conceptual understanding of math and highlight the connections between the math they learn in school and the math used by STEM professionals. We are working to further highlight these connections through videos of entrepreneurs discussing how they use STEM in new, innovative, and entrepreneurial ways.

 The Innovation Challenges for Middle School Mathematics in a Digital Learning System: Student Participation and Impact on Achievement, Affect, and STEM Career Interest project is funded by the National Science Foundation(DRL-1759167).

The Next-Generation Digital Learning System (DLS) Project: In Progress


The Next-Generation DLS project seeks to build upon the progress from the completed Learning Maps and Diagnostic Assessment projects to create a more robust system for supporting students in middle grades mathematics classrooms.

Using the Learning Map and the initial set of diagnostic assessments as the foundation, the SUDDS team is developing new features and expanding upon existing ones. In the works for the Math-Mapper DLS are: a robust practice environment, a scope and sequence tool, detailed student and class reports that present actionable information clearly for students and teachers, an expanded item pool, and additional assessments.

In addition, the SUDDS team continues to conduct research on the DLS, in concert with our partner schools, through classroom design studies and analyses of the assessment data. The research leads directly to improvements on the DLS, so that it can become a more powerful tool for improving learning outcomes in the mathematics classroom.

 The Next Generation DLS Project is funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Diagnostic Assessment Project: Completed 2017


Too often, innovative and powerful ways of teaching and learning lose traction because they are difficult to assess. The Diagnostic Assessments Project seeks to solve this problem by developing dynamic digital assessments that accurately measure student thinking about mathematics.

The assessments will be integrated into the Learning Map and reporting system to follow student progress in real time. Teachers will receive immediate feedback on their students’ learning to permit them to adjust their instruction and provide targeted interventions.

As the assessments are developed, students and teachers will be invited to review the prototypes and provide feedback through clinical interviews and playtesting conducted via online and in-person focus groups.

 The Diagnostic Assessment Project is funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Learning Maps Project: Completed 2015


The Learning Map under development by the SUDDS team guides students and teachers through middle grades mathematics content in order to support personalized learning. It engages them in the topics, reveals an underlying structure that connects topics, and shows them possible routes to new learning.

Building on the new concept of “relational learning clusters” (Confrey 2014), the map structures math topics to reflect how students actually learn as they progress to more sophisticated understanding. As students and their teachers navigate through the map, they can make choices about their learning and teaching in real time. A sample reporting system is under development to provide and support personalized learning.

To refine and improve the map and accompanying reports, the team will conduct design studies with students and teachers at every phase of development. Upon completion of the map, teachers will have access to professional development to learn how to leverage the power of the map in their classrooms.

 The Learning Maps Project Team was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.