Standards-based mathematics curricula and the promotion of quantitative literacy in elementary school
Wilkins, Jesse L. M.
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Background: Prior research has shown that students taught using Standards-based mathematics curricula tend to outperform students on measures of mathematics achievement. However, little research has focused particularly on the promotion of student quantitative literacy (QLT). In this study, the potential influence of the Investigations in Number, Data, and Space curriculum on student quantitative literacy is investigated. Quantitative literacy is conceptualized as a hierarchical three-factor model comprising the interrelationship among a student’s mathematical beliefs, disposition, and cognition. This theoretical model is validated with elementary-aged students and used to investigate whether students’ quantitative literacy is related to the use of the Investigations curriculum. Results: The hierarchical three-factor QLT model was found to have relatively good fit for the sample of elementary-aged students, and all inter-factor relationships were found to be consistent with the proposed theoretical model of the quantitative literacy construct. On average, students in the school district using a Standards-based mathematics curriculum had increased levels of quantitative literacy when compared to students in the district not using the curriculum or using it for less time. Conclusions: Based on the findings of this study, the Investigations mathematics curriculum has potential to promote students’ development of quantitative literacy in elementary school. Furthermore, the results of the study provide additional validation for the theoretical quantitative literacy construct modeled as a second-order factor comprising the interrelationship among a student’s mathematical beliefs, mathematical disposition, and mathematical cognition.