Dissertation Award

Dissertation Award (PDF)

Dissertation Proposals will now be accepted through April 1, 2024!

Outstanding Dissertation in Mathematics Education Award

Request for Proposals for Funding by CPM Educational Program

Details and Submission Guidelines

Submission Deadline: Feb. 1 at 11:59 pm PST

Award Duration: 1 Year

Number of Awards Available:

Submission: Applications should be submitted by the deadline. Late proposals will not be accepted. Please send questions to
Prior Awards: Prior awards can be found at

Decision Announced: June

Stipend: $30,000

Applicant Qualifications: Students enrolled full-time in doctoral programs who are in good academic standing and will advance to candidacy before the award year(s) begin.
Disclaimer: CPM reserves the right not to select an awardee if the proposals received are of insufficient quality or are not of interest to CPM, or if circumstances affecting CPM make it against CPM’s best interests to fund research. 


CPM Educational Program (“CPM”, is a California nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to improving grades 6-12 mathematics curriculum and instruction. Therefore, one of the goals of CPM is to support research on problem-based mathematics learning, as well as on the strengths and limitations of particular designs for professional learning around instruction aimed towards such learning. To this end, CPM offers award opportunities to fund educational research that will contribute to the understanding of how to improve mathematics teaching and learning in grades 6-12 in the United States. These awards support research that build theory, develop methodological tools, and establish knowledge around four key features of secondary mathematics education: curricular materials, teaching, learning, and/or professional learning. 


CPM wishes to fund research that serves the wider mathematics education community by leading to the development of theory and the improvement of practice. CPM encourages research proposals that consider important educational questions that can inform mathematics education in areas such as curriculum design, teacher education and professional learning, and ecological features that support teacher or student learning. All funded research proposals will (a) be consistent with the mission and support the vision of CPM, (b) offer insight into ways to improve mathematics teaching and learning at the secondary level, and (c) demonstrate the potential to lead to publishable results to support the broader mathematics education research field. Examples of topics relevant to this call for proposals include but are not limited to:

  1. Fostering teacher learning and instructional change, such as through (a) virtual coaching, (b) virtual professional learning events, or (c) the development of tools that support teacher learning
  2. Supports designed for students who have struggled to develop long-term positive relationships with school mathematics
  3. Effective ways to use technology to support students’ learning, whether of particular topics or in the development of productive mathematical dispositions ( whether or not a particular technology changed test scores)
  4. Community math activities, such as at family math nights to educate parents on the mathematics their children will be learning
  5. Anti-racist practices for 6-12 mathematics education and teacher professional learning

Research questions do not need to focus centrally on CPM or be solely about CPM, but all proposals should make clear how CPM materials or professional learning are involved and a good fit for the project’s goals. Research about textbook content alone can focus on student or teacher versions of curriculum and should involve the most recent version of textbook materials.

All proposed project must include at least one deliverable that supports the practice of mathematics education. Examples of deliverables include frameworks for curriculum design, teacher observation tools, and design principles for professional learning workshops. CPM will have the right to use deliverables to support the teachers and students who use CPM materials and professional learning

Because of the paucity of video available from collaborative, problem-based mathematics classrooms at middle- and high-school levels, studies that can increase the number of video cases usable in teacher education and professional learning are highly encouraged, not required.

Research proposals to evaluate curricula will not be considered. For example, a research question such as, Do students persevere more in problem solving in CPM classrooms compared to other classrooms?, will not be considered for funding as such questions are not designed to produce findings useful for improving mathematics education outside of CPM contexts.

Proposals that evidence or are likely to propagate a deficit perspective of teachers will not be considered for funding.


Awardees must be enrolled full-time in doctoral programs and maintain good academic standing for the duration of funding. Awardees must  advance to candidacy before the award year(s) begin. Awardees must be certified for research on human subjects, and, if awarded funding, receive and furnish evidence for IRB approval prior to starting the research.


Proposals that do not follow these formatting guidelines will be disqualified. Proposal narratives are limited to 10 pages with single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, and 1 inch margins. Proposal narratives and must, at minimum, contain the following components: Research Question(s), Theoretical Framework, Research Design, Deliverables, Research Timeline, Dissemination Plan.

Proposals may also include up to 5 pages total of appendices (beyond the narrative page limit) that provide supplementary tools or protocols pertaining to the proposed project, such as sample data collection instruments, tables of instructional materials, sample modified tasks, technical specifications, etc. Appendices may not be used to extend the space needed for the required elements of the proposal narrative (e.g., do not use appendices to extend the text related to theoretical framework, research questions, etc.).


In addition, proposals must include the following elements (beyond the narrative page limit):

  • A one-page title page with project title; requested amount; names and institutional affiliations of PI, and any co-PIs, with contact information including phone numbers and emails; institution of research; start and end dates; and a brief summary of the proposed study limited to 200 words. This cover page should also clearly indicate which type of award is being proposed, a CPM Dissertation Fellowship Award, an Exploratory Research Grant, or an Extensive Research Grant
  • References for citations within the narrative.
  • A letter of recommendation from the dissertation chair or director with contact information. The letter should describe the applicant’s achievements and qualifications as they relate to the dissertation study and confirm that the applicant is in the candidate stage of their doctoral program.
  • Biographical outline (1 page for each investigator, including the PI and any co-PIs), including education, a list of relevant publications, information about teaching experience that supports this research, and prior experience with CPM. A biographical outline of the dissertation chair or director must also be submitted.
  • Submit proposals as a single pdf document via email to with pages in this order: Title page, Proposal narrative, References, Letter of support, Biographical outline(s), and Appendices.
  • Indicate whether permission for the study by schools or districts has already been granted. While pre-approval is not a requirement, proposals must indicate what progress has been made toward identifying and securing permission from participant schools and districts.
  • If applicable, include a list of which CPM textbook(s) will be included in the study with title and year of publication. List should indicate whether teacher and/or student versions will be used. CPM textbook materials can be provided if needed, or an eBook license can be provided free-of-charge for awardees. Applicants who are not yet familiar with CPM are strongly encouraged to contact to access relevant information regarding CPM curricular materials, professional learning, coaching, and/or classroom implementation


Proposals will be reviewed by a series of sub-committees composed of established and early career scholars employed by universities rather than CPM, as well as CPM teacher leaders or other CPM employees whose daily work is closely tied to the practical work of teaching. The review process is rigorous and attends to each of the above areas in detail, including how each section supports the overall goal of the proposed research and the ways in which the proposed research will contribute to existing research. Please be sure to attend to each area carefully so as to construct a coherent proposal, while also attending to page limits and feasibility of research within the timeline and budget. Review categories include:

  • Alignment with the mission of CPM
  • Relevance to CPM, regardless of whether or not the project is set in a CPM context
  • Improvements in educational practice for participants
  • Benefits stakeholders outside of the research context
  • Clear and significant research questions
  • Coherence and detail within and across the sections of this proposal
  • Feasibility
  • Plan for dissemination of research findings
  • Qualifications of the PI and other project personnel
  • Appropriateness of the budget


  • The official start and end dates of funded projects, although indicated on proposals, will ultimately be mutually agreed upon by awardees and CPM. Funds will not be delivered until CPM is satisfied with project dates that align with both CPM and researcher needs.
  • Awardees must present at the Annual CPM Teacher Conference (held Februarys in San Francisco) to support the learning of teachers and mathematics education leaders. Presentation slides and plans must be emailed to one month in advance. In addition, all awardees will be required to attend a session to share their research and network with other awardees.
  • The expenses associated with traveling to and attending the CPM teacher conference are covered by the stipend.
  • Because the CPM Dissertation Award is intended to alleviate the need for significant other employment during the year of the fellowship, the doctoral candidate is expected to commit to full-time work on the dissertation and limit the performance of additional paid work during this time.
  • Awardees are expected to agree not to accept any other grant, fellowship, or award that provides duplicate benefits supporting the same aspect of the proposed research project.
  • Awardees must file progress reports annually on January 15 and July 15. Progress reports include information about project status, dilemmas encountered, any dissemination activities, and emerging research findings and must follow the CPM Research Awards Progress Report Template. Reports should be sent via email to
  • Awardees must attend every other month meetings with CPM’s research faculty and other awardees to share their progress and dilemmas and engage in collaboration.
  • Before the award is disbursed, awardees must provide CPM with a headshot and biographic sketch relating to the proposed research, along with their project’s abstract, to be posted on a webpage for CPM’s Research Grants Program.
  • During the funding period, awardees will share in-progress findings with CPM upon request, such as through virtual meetings. In addition, awardees will share with CPM any in-progress and finalized tools, frameworks, and etcetera that they develop through the grant, and CPM will give the awardee credit if the deliverables are used by CPM. The IRB must include provisions for sharing such in-progress research. For example, CPM may wish to share anonymized transcript excerpts in its professional learning events to support teacher learning.
  • Awardees will provide CPM copies of publications and presentations resulting from the project.
  • At the conclusion of funding, all awardees will provide CPM with a detailed report of the project’s outcomes. All awardees will submit a 10 minute video (approximately) explaining their research’s focus and its significance, findings, and implications for practice. Both will be posted on a CPM website.

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Algebra Tiles Blue Icon

Algebra Tiles Session

  • Used throughout CPM middle and high school courses
  • Concrete, geometric representation of algebraic concepts.
  • Two-hour virtual session,
  •  Learn how students build their conceptual understanding of simplifying algebraic expressions
  • Solving equations using these tools.  
  • Determining perimeter,
  • Combining like terms,
  • Comparing expressions,
  • Solving equations
  • Use an area model to multiply polynomials,
  • Factor quadratics and other polynomials, and
  • Complete the square.
  • Support the transition from a concrete (manipulative) representation to an abstract model of mathematics..

Foundations for Implementation

This professional learning is designed for teachers as they begin their implementation of CPM. This series contains multiple components and is grounded in multiple active experiences delivered over the first year. This learning experience will encourage teachers to adjust their instructional practices, expand their content knowledge, and challenge their beliefs about teaching and learning. Teachers and leaders will gain first-hand experience with CPM with emphasis on what they will be teaching. Throughout this series educators will experience the mathematics, consider instructional practices, and learn about the classroom environment necessary for a successful implementation of CPM curriculum resources.

Page 2 of the Professional Learning Progression (PDF) describes all of the components of this learning event and the additional support available. Teachers new to a course, but have previously attended Foundations for Implementation, can choose to engage in the course Content Modules in the Professional Learning Portal rather than attending the entire series of learning events again.

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Building on Instructional Practice Series

The Building on Instructional Practice Series consists of three different events – Building on Discourse, Building on Assessment, Building on Equity – that are designed for teachers with a minimum of one year of experience teaching with CPM instructional materials and who have completed the Foundations for Implementation Series.

Building on Equity

In Building on Equity, participants will learn how to include equitable practices in their classroom and support traditionally underserved students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Essential questions include: How do I shift dependent learners into independent learners? How does my own math identity and cultural background impact my classroom? The focus of day one is equitable classroom culture. Participants will reflect on how their math identity and mindsets impact student learning. They will begin working on a plan for Chapter 1 that creates an equitable classroom culture. The focus of day two and three is implementing equitable tasks. Participants will develop their use of the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Meaningful Mathematical Discussions and curate strategies for supporting all students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Participants will use an equity lens to reflect on and revise their Chapter 1 lesson plans.

Building on Assessment

In Building on Assessment, participants will apply assessment research and develop methods to provide feedback to students and inform equitable assessment decisions. On day one, participants will align assessment practices with learning progressions and the principle of mastery over time as well as write assessment items. During day two, participants will develop rubrics, explore alternate types of assessment, and plan for implementation that supports student ownership. On the third day, participants will develop strategies to monitor progress and provide evidence of proficiency with identified mathematics content and practices. Participants will develop assessment action plans that will encourage continued collaboration within their learning community.

Building on Discourse

In Building on Discourse, participants will improve their ability to facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse. This learning experience will encourage participants to adjust their instructional practices in the areas of sharing math authority, developing independent learners, and the creation of equitable classroom environments. Participants will plan for student learning by using teaching practices such as posing purposeful questioning, supporting productive struggle, and facilitating meaningful mathematical discourse. In doing so, participants learn to support students collaboratively engaged with rich tasks with all elements of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices incorporated through intentional and reflective planning.