Building Academic Skills in Context: Testing the Value of Enhanced Math Learning in CTE

Building Academic Skills in Context: Testing the Value of Enhanced Math Learning in CTE

Jun 2006


James R. Stone III
Corinne Alfeld
Donna Pearson
Morgan V. Lewis
Susan Jensen

Executive Summary:

Many high school students, particularly those enrolled in career and technical education (CTE) courses, do not have the math skills necessary for today’s jobs or college entrance requirements. Math is found in all areas of CTE, but is largely implicit to both teachers and students. This report describes a group randomized trial (GRT) research study designed to test a model for enhancing mathematics instruction in high school CTE courses emphasizing the mathematics that is already embedded in the CTE curriculum. The aim was to help CTE teachers make mathematics more explicit in a meaningful context and then help reinforce students’ mathematics understanding both in and out of that context.

We hypothesized that conceptual mathematics learning and transferability of skills could be enhanced by using a contextual approach, and that testing students on both traditional (abstract) and applied math problems would show whether this was accomplished. The creation of explicit connections between situations is critical if students are to transfer their knowledge and skills outside the classroom, whether it is to another context or to a testing situation. We call this approach contextual. Unlike other models that are context-based, the mathematics in our contextual model arose from the CTE curriculum, rather than being forced into it.



Stone, J. R., III, Alfeld, C. Pearson, D., Lewis, M. V., & Jensen, S. (2006, July). Building academic skills in context: Testing the value of enhanced math learning in CTE (Final study). St. Paul, MN: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Minnesota.