Associate Professor Jessica Hunt Receives Linking Research and Practice Outstanding Publication Award

Jessica Hunt, associate professor of mathematics education and special education at the NC State College of Education, has received the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Linking Research and Practice Outstanding Publication Award for the article “Productive Struggle for All: Differentiated Instruction.” The award recognizes outstanding contributions to NCTM publications that link research to practice and are disseminated to practitioner audiences.

Hunt shares the award with Sararose D. Lynch, an assistant professor of mathematics education at Westminster College, and Katherine E. Lewis, an assistant professor of special education and mathematics education at the University of Washington.

NCTM established the Linking Research and Practice Outstanding Publication Award to increase its efforts in linking research and practice in mathematics education and selects one article from each of its three practitioner journals. “Productive Struggle for All: Differentiated Instruction” was selected from the January/February 2018 issue of Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School.

In the article, Hunt and her co-authors offer a planning framework that combines aspects of productive struggle and differentiation to alleviate a challenge within differentiated instruction — ensuring that rigor is maintained for students with disabilities which supports students in thinking critically about mathematics content through their own ways of making sense.

Questions from the framework include, but are not limited to:

  • What is the underlying mathematical goal that the task is designed toward?
  • How can students engage with the mathematical goal in a way that builds on and extends prior knowledge?
  • How much time is sufficient to enable all students to engage with the mathematical substance of this task?
  • What are the barriers the student might experience in engaging with the problem?

In addition to the framework, Hunt and her team offer examples of how differentiation can help teachers evaluate whether task modifications help or hurt the productive struggle of students. Also, they include case study examples of how to apply the framework to different student characteristics.

“Productive Struggle for All: Differentiated Instruction” inspired a follow-up article by Hunt entitled “Think-Pair-Show-Share” that elaborates on the use of universally designed talk moves geared toward bolstering accessible student discourse. NCTM published it in a focus issue on intentional mathematics discourse.