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ERIC Number: ED563039
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Reference Count: 37
Does Cognitive Strategy Training on Word Problems Compensate for Working Memory Capacity in Children with Math Difficulties?
Swanson, H. Lee; Orosco, Michael J.; Lussier, Cathy
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Recent intervention studies directed to improve problem solving accuracy in children with math difficulties (MD) have found support for teaching cognitive strategies. This study addresses the question: What role does working memory capacity (WMC) play in strategy outcomes for children with MD? Four prediction models can be applied to strategy training outcomes for children with MD: (a) WMC as a limiting factor, (b) basic skills, (c) general resource, and (d) compensatory. The limiting WMC factor model suggests that children with lower WMC are less likely to benefit from strategy conditions than children with relatively higher WMC. Thus, children with MD vary in their responsiveness to strategy instruction and this is predicated on their WMC. In contrast, the basic skills model suggests that if declarative knowledge is intact (e.g., reading comprehension, and computational knowledge are in the average range), strategy instruction provides a helpful procedure to solve word problems without making demands on WMC. Participants were comprised of 146 third grade children from public school classrooms in the southwest United States. Children were drawn from 22 3rd grade classrooms. Children in the treatment conditions were provided instruction in small groups during math time and were instructed in a class or library in the same school setting. All children in the study participated with their peers in their home rooms on tasks and activities related to the district wide math school curriculum. Each experimental treatment condition included 20 scripted lessons administered over 8 weeks. Each lesson was 30 minutes in duration and was administered three times a week in small groups of 3 to 5 children. The criterion measures used to assess treatment effects were word problems from the Comprehensive Math Abilities Test (CMAT), arithmetic problems from the WRAT-3, and recall from an Operation Span measure. The results showed a significant WMC x treatment interaction across all criterion measures. In general, the results indicated that WMC played an important role in post-test performance outcomes, especially for the strategy conditions that included diagramming (visual-only condition). Tables and figures are appended.
Descriptors: Grade 3, Elementary School Students, Mathematics Skills, Learning Problems, Models, Cognitive Processes, Mathematics Instruction, Comparative Analysis, Control Groups, Experimental Groups, Instructional Effectiveness, Learning Strategies, Problem Solving, Short Term Memory, Word Problems (Mathematics), Intelligence Tests, Pretests Posttests
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 3; Primary Education; Elementary Education; Early Childhood Education
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Raven Progressive Matrices; Wide Range Achievement Test