The Mathematics eText Research Center (MeTRC), under the leadership of Dr. Mark Horney and Dr. Lynne Anderson-Inman of the University of Oregon's Center for Advanced Technology in Education (CATE), is conducting a systematic program of research over five years in collaboration with five teams across the country, each focusing on a specific student population, curriculum, or resource type.
Four research questions are being investigated related to students with print disabilities in grades 4–9 in rural, suburban, and urban settings in the United States.
- Which eText supports will increase access to mathematics content?
- Which eText supports will promote academic achievement in mathematics?
- What student characteristics influence the effectiveness of eText supports for learning mathematics?
- What contextual factors influence the effectiveness of eText supports for learning mathematics?
To accomplish its mission, MeTRC has adopted three major objectives:
Plan and conduct research investigating the impact of specific features of supported electronic text (supported eText) designed to increase access to mathematics content for students with learning disabilities and/or visual impairments in grades 3 through 9, and improve their academic achievement in the general education mathematics curriculum.
Engage appropriate experts nationwide in dialogue and collaborative research focused on understanding the variables that affect the extent to which and the ways in which accessible and supported eText facilitates or inhibits improved comprehension of mathematical language and the learning of mathematics content.
- Disseminate information about accessible and supported eText, research findings, research methods, and products of the expert dialogue and collaboration to researchers, educators, publishers, assessment developers, accessibility experts, AT specialists, parents, students, and other consumers.
MeTRC research teams
In its first efforts, with funding from the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education, MeTRC is supporting the work of five research teams:
- Preston Lewis and colleagues Steve Noble and Linnie Lee at the University of Kentucky are investigating issues of converting and delivering the variety of content in a 7th grade math curriculum in accessible digital format including MathML, so it can all be read aloud by a text-to-speech engine. The study will also examine how the digital version can be integrated into ongoing instruction, and how digital access to and routine use of such content impacts learning of mathematics by students with print disabilities.
- Mike Russell and his group at the Nimble Innovation Lab are examining different options for scripting the presentation of mathematical expressions, tables and charts to students with vision impairments and dyscalcula. This issue is particularly important in testing applications where it is critical to maintain construct validity while shifting the presentation modality from printed to electronic forms.
- Lindy Crawford and her associates at Texas Christian University are investigating students' use of active online learning supports. Their research will discover whether students use the active support tools available to them within online environments, and whether their use of them increases their achievement in mathematics. Active support tools include online calculators, key term dictionaries, vocabulary hyperlinks, audio support, and "need more help" options. Questions will be answered using the Math Learning Companion program as a proxy for web-based math curricula.
- Emily Bouck and Dave Schleppenbach at Purdue University are interested in questions about the access and understanding of mathematical notation by students who have vision imapirments. Such students often make use of MathML-based text-to-speech engines for access to mathematics. How well does this strategy work, for which students and under what circumstances?
- Mark Horney and his collaborators at the University of Oregon are working in 8th grade Algebra classes to understand how students with learning disabilities use and are challenged by their mathematics textbooks. From this they hope to specify the characteristics of a digital Algebra textbook embedded with resources especially suited to the needs of students with special needs.
This site also contains information about "Supported eText" which is the conceptual framework for the MeTRC research, the extensive online database of eText research at the searchable online eText Research Database, and discussions of issues critical to the ongoing development eTexts for mathematics.
The Mathematics eText Research Center (MeTRC) is a national research center whose mission is to conduct a systematic program of research and development on the use of accessible supported electronic text (supported eText) for improving the mathematics achievement of students with disabilities. Funding for MeTRC is through a five-year cooperative agreement with the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the U.S. Department of Education. The grant proposal can be downloaded in PDF format.
If you would like more information about the Mathematics eText Research Center and its research, please contact Mark Horney.