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IES Grant

Title: AnimalWatch-VI Suite: A Comprehensive Program to Increase Access to Mathematics for Students with Visual Impairments
Center: NCSER Year: 2012
Principal Investigator: Beal, Carole Awardee: University of Arizona
Program: Technology for Special Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 03/01/2012–02/28/2015 Award Amount: $1,204,061
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A120006

Co-Principal Investigator: Jane Erin

Purpose: The impact of visual impairment is widely recognized to be particularly significant for mathematics learning as vision provides important access to information that supports the development of conceptual understanding in mathematics. Students with visual impairments consistently lack access to the mathematics curriculum and therefore show substantially lower achievement in mathematics and reduced participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Helping students with visual impairments master core algebra readiness mathematics skills such as basic computation, fractions, and pre algebra will position them to succeed in high school and beyond.

The goal of this project is to develop Animal Suite-VI, a set of 14 web-delivered, accessible instructional modules covering computation, fractions, and variables and expressions for students with visual impairments in middle school and high school. Each module will include word problems and instructional scaffolding accessible via self-voicing software, accompanied by braille and tactile graphics.

Project Activities: During the first year of the project, the research team will modify the existing Animal Suite to form the prototype of the intervention targeted for students with visual impairments. Usability testing will be conducted across multiple sites with data collected from students during this phase guiding revisions to the program. During the second year, the intervention will be implemented in classrooms with teachers and students across multiple sites to assess feasibility and usability. Data collected during this phase will inform the second round of revisions to the intervention. The final year of the study involves a multiple baseline single-case design study to assess the promise of the program for improving student outcomes in mathematics.

Products: The products to be developed include the Animal Suite-VI web modules, and publications and presentations on study progress.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in middle and high schools in Arizona, Nevada, Alabama, New Mexico, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Texas.

Sample: The participants in the study include students with mild, moderate, or severe visual impairments who are studying algebra readiness mathematics. Additionally, teachers of students with visual impairments who will implement the intervention in classroom settings will be included.

Intervention: The intervention to be developed is Animal Suite-VI, which includes 14 web-delivered instructional modules covering computation, fractions, and variables and expressions. Each module will include word problems and instructional scaffolding accessible via self-voicing software accompanied by braille and tactile graphics. Access will also be facilitated by tools to set color, contrast, and text size on the computer screen. Professional development training materials for teachers will also be developed.

Research Design and Methods: Research methods include usability and feasibility testing to inform revisions to the program. Additionally, a pilot study using an alternating treatment design comparing math problem solving under existing practice and intervention conditions to assess the promise of the intervention will be conducted.

Control Condition: The pilot study will involve an alternating treatment, single-subject research design with performance under existing practice serving as the baseline condition.

Key Measures: Students' math problem-solving proficiency will be measured by examining the proportion of math problems completed in a unit and the proportion of incorrect answer attempts. Video recordings will be used to develop measures of students' strategic effectiveness using accessible graphics during math problem solving under intervention and existing practice conditions. Students' access to instruction will be measured by teacher surveys under existing versus intervention conditions.

Data Analytic Strategy: Video recordings assessing usability and accessibility will be transcribed and coded by multiple individuals to ensure reliability during each year of the project. These data will be used to refine the Animal Suite-VI intervention in Years 1 and 2. During Year 3, the single-subject study data on students' math problem solving under existing practice and intervention conditions will be used to assess promise of the intervention. Visual analyses of the single-subject data will be conducted. In addition, the researchers will conduct a meta-analysis of the single-case data across the seven research sites. Teacher and student ratings of the perceived effectiveness of the instructional package at pretest and posttest will be analyzed using paired sample t-tests.

Products and Publications

Beal, C. R., & Rosenblum, L. P. (in press). Development of a math learning app for students with visual impairments. Journal on Technology and Persons with Disabilities.

Beal, C. R., & Rosenblum, L. P. (in press). Use of an accessible iPad app and supplemental graphics to build math skills: Feasibility study results. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness.