Overview of Investigations

The Investigations curriculum represents the culmination of over 20 years of research and development aimed at improving the teaching and learning of elementary mathematics.

Funded by the National Science Foundation1 , TERC, and Pearson, Investigations in Number, Data, and Space is based on:

  • Our goals and guiding principles about teaching and learning mathematics (see below)
  • What has been learned from developing and supporting the implementation of the curriculum over the course of 18 years
  • Collaboration with over 100 classroom teachers from a variety of settings in field testing the curriculum; this field testing involved documentation of thousands of hours in classrooms, observations of students, input from teachers, and analysis of student work
  • An extensive body of research on how children learn mathematics.

Six major goals guided the development of Investigations. The curriculum is designed to:

  • Support students to make sense of mathematics and learn that they can be mathematical thinkers
  • Focus on computational fluency with whole numbers as a major goal of the elementary grades
  • Provide substantive work in important areas of mathematics—rational numbers, geometry, measurement, data, and early algebra—and connections among them
  • Emphasize reasoning about mathematical ideas
  • Communicate mathematics content and pedagogy to teachers
  • Engage the range of learners in understanding mathematics.

Underlying these goals are three guiding principles that are our touchstones as we approach both students and teachers as agents of their own learning:

  • 1. Students have mathematical ideas. The curriculum must support all students in developing and expanding those ideas.
  • 2. Teachers are engaged in ongoing learning about mathematics content and about how students learn mathematics. The curriculum must support teachers in this learning.
  • 3. Teachers collaborate with the students and curriculum materials to create the curriculum as enacted in the classroom. The curriculum must support teachers in implementing the curriculum in a way that accommodates the needs of their particular students.

Based on extensive classroom testing, Investigations takes seriously the time students need to develop a strong conceptual foundation and skills based on that foundation. Therefore, each curriculum unit focuses on an area of content, in depth, providing 2 to 5 1⁄2 weeks for students to develop and practice ideas across a variety of activities and contexts that build on each other. The units also address the learning needs of real students in a wide range of classrooms and communities. The investigations are carefully designed to invite all students into mathematics—girls and boys; members of diverse cultural, ethnic, and language groups; and students with a wide variety of strengths, needs, and interests.

1Investigations was developed with support from the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ESI-0095450. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.