A Focus on Pedagogy


The EMPower curriculum focuses on learning for understanding. It embeds teacher support and is transformative, yet realistic, for multilevel classrooms.

EMPower challenges students and teachers to consistently extend their ideas of what it means to do math. The curriculum focuses on mathematical reasoning, communication, and problem solving with a variety of approaches and strategies, not just rote memorization and symbol manipulation.

Mathematics is meaningful within a social context. While mathematical truths are universal, the meaning and relevance of numbers changes according to the setting and culture. Therefore, the EMPower pedagogy is focused on sets of connected activities that require communication and discourse. The program fosters a learning community in which students are encouraged to expand their understanding of mathematics through:

  • Exploring ideas in open-ended investigations
  • Working collaboratively
  • Sharing ideas orally and in writing
  • Discovering multiple ways for solving problems.

Key features of curriculum activities provide:

  • Clear mathematical goals
  • Contexts that are engaging and useful for young people and adults
  • Opportunities to strengthen mathematical language and communication skills
  • Various ways of entering and solving problems
  • Puzzles that draw students into problems and motivate them to seek a solution.

EMPower is part of the Adult Numeracy Center at TERC.
Developed and field tested by the Educational Research Collaborative at TERC with support from the National Science Foundation.