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Towards a research base for textbooks as teacher support: The case of engaging students in active knowledge organization in the KOSIMA project
S. Prediger, B. Barzel, S. Hussmann, T. Leuders

Towards a research base for textbooks as teacher support: The case of engaging students in active knowledge organization in the KOSIMA project

ZDM: The International Journal on Mathematics Education

Engaging students in processes of mathematizing and active knowledge organization (instead of telling and rehearsing ready-made mathematics) is a key demand for high quality mathematics instruction. Although many mathematically rich context problems have been designed and published in textbooks, their impact on regular mathematics classrooms remains limited, as teachers face challenges in shaping and enacting the important phase of knowledge organization. The 15-year project KOSIMA presented in this paper was aimed at supporting teachers in really enhancing these processes by means of a textbook for Grades 5–10. The paper provides an overview of different studies conducted during the project in order to show how the project developed a research base for the support of teachers. The paper also shows that different research approaches need to be combined to establish an appropriate research base: In iterative design research cycles of topic-specific didactical design research, learning environments were designed and investigated with the aim of understanding the obstacles encountered in implementing the desired processes. In this paper, we focus on an example of one particular obstacle, namely, teachers’ need of support in engaging students in processes of active knowledge organization. This obstacle was overcome by developing new types of tasks for active knowledge organization. The theoretical outcome of the design research resulted in two hypotheses for improving relevant features of the design of these tasks, which were tested in two controlled trials. Finally, a longitudinal field study of 312 students gave first indications that the classes that worked with the textbook had significantly higher learning gains than classes using other textbooks. In sum, we can show that textbooks can support changes in classroom practices when the obstacles that occur for both teachers and students are carefully investigated and treated.