Mathematical problem-solving strategy instruction for third-grade students with learning disabilities

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The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of strategy instruction on the mathematical problem solving of 3rd-grade students with learning disabilities. Participants were 24 students whose teachers were randomly assigned to 4 conditions: (a) control, (b) acquisition, (c) low-dose acquisition plus transfer, or (d) full-dose acquisition plus transfer. During the 3-week study, students in each experimental group received instruction on a 6-step procedure for solving word problems that required finding half of a number. Across Groups A, B, and C, treatment comprised explicit instruction with heavy use of worked examples and practice with a higher achieving classmate. Analyses of variances were conducted on improvement between pre- and posttreatment measures in terms of number of problems solved correctly and amount of work showing the steps taught in the treatment. For problems solved correctly, statistically significant improvement favored the full-dose acquisition plus transfer group over the control and over the low-dose acquisition plus transfer groups. For amount of work, significant differences favored the low-dose acquisition plus transfer and full-dose acquisition plus transfer groups over the control group. Student and teacher attitudes about the instructional strategy and working with a partner were positive. Mathematical strategy instruction and pairing students for instruction is discussed with respect to directions for practice and future research.

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