In one comparative study, for example, with a high school curriculum that included rich applied problem situations, students scored somewhat better than comparison students on algebraic procedures and significantly better on conceptual and problem-solving tasks (Schoen & Ziebarth, 1998).This finding was further verified through task-based interviews.Integration of academic and vocational education, he argues, can serve the dual goals of "grounding academic standards in the realistic context of workplace requirements and introducing a broader view of the potential usefulness of academic skills even for entry level workers." Noting the importance and utility of mathematics for jobs in science, health, and business, Jean Taylor argues for continued emphasis in high school of topics such as algebra, estimation, and trigonometry.
He discusses several such programs that use work-related applications to teach academic skills and to prepare students for college.
The relationships among teachers, students, curricular materials, and pedagogical approaches are complex.
Nonetheless, the literature does supports the premise that workplace and everyday problems enhance mathematical learning, and suggests that if students engage in mathematical thinking, they will be afforded opportunities for building connections, and therefore meaning and understanding.
Studies that show superior performance of students in problem-centered classrooms are not limited to high schools.
Wood and Sellers (1996), for example, found similar results with second and third graders.