Description: |
**Previous Award Number:** R324A110270
**Previous Awardee:** University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
**Purpose:** Mathematical knowledge at school entry is an important predictor of later academic achievement. Children who are especially low performing on measures of mathematical knowledge at the beginning of preschool often show less growth in mathematical knowledge over the preschool year, remain well below school readiness benchmarks for mathematics, and continue to struggle in mathematics in later grades despite receiving high-quality classroom instruction. These students require more intensive interventions focused on mathematics instruction at an early age. The purpose of this project is to assess the efficacy of a preschool program, *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial*, and the combination of this program with attention training, for improving the mathematical knowledge of preschool children who are especially low performing in mathematics. The *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* is an intensified version of Pre-K Mathematics, a classroom program that has evidence of efficacy when implemented at scale. The researchers will compare the relative efficacy of the *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* with a condition that includes the *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* plus attention training and with a business-as-usual control condition.
**Project Activities:** A randomized control trial will be used to study the efficacy of the *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* and *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* plus attention training interventions. Children in Texas and California who are identified as low performing in mathematics and most at risk for mathematical difficulties in later grades will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial*, *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* plus attention training, or a business-as-usual control condition. Children will be assessed pre-intervention, immediately after intervention, and in kindergarten. A series of data analysis techniques will be used to estimate the effects of both interventions on children's mathematics, attention, working memory, and beginning literacy outcomes at the end of preschool and kindergarten.
**Products:** The products of this project will be published reports on the efficacy of the *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* and the *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* plus attention training for improving the mathematics, attention, working memory, and beginning literacy outcomes of preschoolers most at risk for failure in mathematics.
Structured Abstract
**Setting:** The research project will take place in state-funded preschool classrooms in Texas and California.
**Population:** Approximately 528 children from 88 preschool classrooms will participate in this research. The children will be low performing in mathematics and most at risk for mathematical difficulties in later grades.
**Interventions:**
*Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial*. *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* is adapted from a mathematics curriculum, Pre-K Mathematics, which has evidence of efficacy for improving mathematics outcomes of low-performing preschool children. *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* is a year-long program comprised of 21 scripted activities that will be delivered in small, ability-matched groups by a tutor outside of the classroom for 4 days a week (15–20 minutes per session). Children's progress within the small group will be monitored frequently, and difficulty levels of the activities can be adjusted as needed. Once a week, the children will use games also used in the attention training intervention described below. However, the children will not receive explicit training designed to improve their attention skills.
*Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* plus attention training. Children receiving the *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* plus attention training will participate in *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* 4 days a week. Once a week, the children will also receive attention training which involves computer-based activities designed to reinforce and challenge their ability to sustain attention and resolve conflict. Each attention training session lasts between 15 and 20 minutes, and sessions can be adapted based on a child's individual progress.
**Research Design and Methods:** A randomized control trial will be used to study the efficacy of the *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* and *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* plus attention training interventions. Children who are identified as low performing in mathematics and most at risk for mathematical difficulties in later grades will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial*, *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* plus attention training, or a business-as-usual control condition. Children will be assessed pre-intervention, immediately after intervention, and in kindergarten. Information on the fidelity of intervention implementation will be collected.
**Control Condition:** Children who receive the business-as-usual condition will be provided with instruction typically provided by the schools.
**Key Measures:** Key outcomes include measures of mathematics, attention, working memory, and beginning literacy. Ratings will be completed by the teacher on children's focused attention, inhibition of behaviors, and impulsivity. The researchers will also collect data on teacher practices, including the amount of classroom time devoted to mathematics, fidelity of implementation, and treatment dosage.
**Data Analytic Strategy:** A series of data analysis techniques, including multi-level modeling, will be used to estimate the effects of *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* and *Pre-K Mathematics Tutorial* plus attention training on children's mathematics, attention, working memory, and beginning literacy outcomes at the end of preschool and kindergarten. Additional analyses will be conducted to determine variables that may influence the strength of the relation between the interventions and child outcomes. Finally, potential profiles will be modeled to determine whether some children respond to the interventions differentially within the domain of mathematics rather than generally across the domain.
Products and Publications
**Journal article, monograph, or newsletter**
Barnes, M.A., Klein, A., Swank, P., McCandliss, B., Starkey, P., Flynn, K., Zucker, T., Fall, A-M., and Roberts, G. (2016). Effects of Tutorial Interventions in Mathematics and Attention for Low-Performing Preschool Children. *Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 9*(4): 577–606. doi:10.1080/19345747.2016.1191575
Peng, P., Namkung, J., Barnes, M., and Sun, C. Y. (2016). A Meta-Analysis of Mathematics and Working Memory: Moderating Effects of Working Memory Domain, Type of Mathematics Skill, and Sample Characteristics. *Journal of Educational Psychology, 108*(94): 455–473. doi:10.1037/edu0000079 |