Using Propensity Scores to Reduce Selection Bias in Mathematics Education Research

Suzanne E. Graham, University of New Hampshire


This article describes general principles underlying propensity score methods and illustrates their application to mathematics education research using 2 examples investigating the impact of problem-solving emphasis in mathematics classrooms on students’ subsequent mathematics achievement and course taking. Selection bias is a problem for mathematics education researchers interested in using observational rather than experimental data to make causal inferences about the effects of different instructional methods in mathematics on student outcomes. Propensity score methods represent 1 approach to dealing with such selection bias. Limitations of the method are discussed.