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IES Grant

Title: KinderTEK: Teaching Early Knowledge of Whole Number Concepts Through Technology
Center: NCSER Year: 2011
Principal Investigator: Strand Cary, Mari Awardee: University of Oregon
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics      [Program Details]
Award Period: 06/01/2011 – 05/31/2014 Award Amount: $1,784,094
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A110286

Purpose: Results from the latest NAEP (2009) indicate that only about 40% of 4th graders were deemed at or above proficient in mathematics. Significant differences in student knowledge can be reliably measured at school entry on concepts from counting and number knowledge to more complex understandings of quantities, operations, and problem solving. Longitudinal research suggests that students who perform poorly at the end of kindergarten are likely to continue to perform poorly in mathematics through the later elementary grades. These findings suggest that a successful start in mathematics is critical to later mathematics achievement.

Recognizing that mathematics trajectories are established early in school, the researchers will develop an iPad-based mathematics intervention for at-risk kindergarten students. The KinderTEK intervention, designed for use in schools that use a multi-tiered model of service delivery, will be based on promising instructional design principles for students with disabilities. KinderTEK will focus on building conceptual understanding and procedural fluency with whole number concepts. The research team will assess the intervention's feasibility and potential for efficacy.

Project Activities: The researchers will begin with an extended development phase to produce a prototype of the KinderTEK intervention. The researchers will then conduct a series of usability and feasibility trials with KinderTEK in high-poverty kindergarten classrooms. Data collection will include observations, surveys, interviews, focus groups, and iPad log files. In the final year of the project, the researchers will assess the promise of KinderTEK for improving math outcomes by conducting a small-scale pilot study with a business-as-usual comparison condition.

Products: The products of this project include a fully developed KinderTEK intervention as well as publications and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in nine elementary schools in Oregon.

Population: The participants include approximately 150 kindergarten students at risk for mathematics learning disabilities and their teachers.

Intervention: The KinderTEK intervention is an iPad-based mathematics intervention intended to improve at-risk kindergarten students' whole number understanding. The content and sequence of KinderTEK will be based on a previously developed early mathematics curriculum, Early Learning in Mathematics, which has shown evidence of efficacy in a randomized control trial. The KinderTEK intervention is based on three components: (a) critical content pertaining to whole number concepts (counting and cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, and number and operations in base ten); (b) research-based instructional design and delivery features (e.g., explicit instruction, scaffolding, visual representation, practice); and (c) research-based technological design and delivery features.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will create, test, and revise KinderTEK through iterative cycles of development, usability testing, revision, and feasibility studies. In kindergarten classrooms, the four students at greatest risk for mathematics difficulties will use KinderTEK three days per week for 15 minutes per day. During usability and feasibility testing, the research team will collect data using observations, surveys, interviews, focus groups, and iPad log files to guide revisions. A pilot study will be conducted at the end of the final year, which will involve three conditions: (a) researcher developed curriculum plus KinderTEK, (b) standard district curriculum plus KinderTEK, and (c) standard curriculum. During the pilot study the researchers will conduct observations, surveys, focus groups, and collect log files, as well as administer proximal and distal measures of conceptual understanding and procedural fluency at pretest and posttest.

Control Condition: During the final year, a control condition will be included in which students are exposed to the standard kindergarten math curriculum.

Key Measures: Teachers and students will be administered survey instruments and participate in usability trials (including think-alouds and interviews) and focus groups to determine the feasibility of the intervention. Classroom observations, using fidelity and student engagement measures, will be used to revise the intervention and to address feasibility. Proximal measures (Number Sense Brief Screen, Early Numeracy-Curriculum Based Measurement, and Number Sets Test) and a distal measure (Test of Early Mathematics Ability-Third Edition) of student outcomes will also be collected at pretest and posttest.

Data Analytic Strategy: Descriptive data from participant surveys, classroom observations, and student mathematics performance will be coded and used to iteratively revise the intervention, determine feasibility, and examine the potential impact of the intervention on student mathematics achievement. Qualitative focus group data will also be systematically coded and used in revisions to KinderTEK. Differential gains between two treatment groups and one control group on student mathematics achievement measures will be analyzed using analysis of variance to assess the promise of KinderTEK. Correlation and other strength of association methods will be used to explore hypotheses related to implementation fidelity, quality and quantity of student use, and degree of student engagement.


Book chapter

Foegen, A., and Dougherty, B. (2016). Instruction that Meets the Needs of Students with Mathematics Disabilities and Difficulties. Compendium for Research in Mathematics Education. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Retrieved from

Sprague, J.R., Jolivette, K., and Nelson, C.M. (2014). Applying Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports in Alternative Education Programs and Secure Juvenile Facilities. In H.M. Walker, and F.M. Gresham (Eds.), Evidence-Based Practices for Addressing School-Related Behavior Problems and Disorders (pp. 261–276). New York: Guilford.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Knox, C., Anderson-Inman, L., Terrazas-Arellanes, F., Walden, E., Stryker, L.A., and Hildreth, B. (2016). Strategies for Online Academic Research (SOAR): Digital Literacy for Middle School Students. International Journal of Information Communication Technologies and Human Development, 8(1): 42–68. doi:10.4018/IJICTHD.2016010103