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IES Grant

Title: Focusing on the Efficacy of Teaching Advanced Forms of Patterning on Kindergartners' Improvements in Literacy, Mathematics, and Reasoning Ability
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Pasnak, Robert Awardee: George Mason University
Program: Cognition and Student Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (07/01/2017 06/30/2020) Award Amount: $1,621,738
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A170114

Co-Principal Investigators: Julie Kidd, Patrick McKnight

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to replicate the efficacy of an advanced patterning intervention, previously shown to improve first-grade students' math, literacy, and higher-order thinking skills, with kindergarten students. "Patterning" is the ability to recognize an ordering of numbers, letters, shapes, symbols, objects, or events according to some rule of progression. This project builds on the research team's three prior IES grants (Increasing Learning By Promoting Early Abstract Thought, An Economical Improvement In Literacy and Numeracy, and Focusing on the Efficacy of Teaching Advanced Forms of Patterning on First Graders' Improvements in Reading, Mathematics, and Reasoning Ability), where they developed and tested for efficacy an instructional approach to teaching students about patterns using a set of progressively more complex patterns than what is typically used in classrooms.

Project Activities: The advanced patterning intervention consists of a set of 480 patterns that are presented in a variety of formats and types and that are progressively more complex. Students interact with the patterns multiple times a week throughout the school year. During each year of the grant, a new cohort of students and their teachers will participate in the efficacy study to examine whether advanced patterning instruction leads to greater gains in early math, early literacy, and higher-order thinking than comparable time spent on literacy instruction or math instruction.

Products: Researchers will produce evidence of the efficacy of advanced patterning instruction for kindergarten students as well as peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Participating schools are located in an urban area of Virginia.

Sample: Study participants will include approximately 675 kindergarten students and their teachers each year during Years 1 through 3, resulting in a total sample size of approximately 2025 students. Each year, students will be drawn from 45 classrooms across 8 schools. Of the students who consent, the 15 students who score the lowest on a patterning screener within each classroom will be included in the study. Within the schools from which the student sample is drawn, 51% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Intervention: The intervention is advanced patterning instruction (i.e., instruction on patterns more complex than those typically used in classrooms). Students are presented with patterns one at a time from easiest to most difficult for 15 minutes, 3 days per week, for 7 months. For each pattern, students are presented with one item missing from the pattern and are asked to select the missing item from four possible alternatives. After making a selection, students receive feedback about whether their selection was correct or incorrect. Performance is scaffolded through explanation and repetition. The patterning set contains 480 variable patterns that are presented in a variety of formats and types and are progressively more complex.

Research Design and Methods: For this randomized controlled trial, the same procedures will be used for each of the three years of the project. First, at the beginning of each school year, students within each classroom will complete pre-tests. Next they will be stratified based on their literacy and mathematics pre-test scores and then will be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: advanced patterning instruction, math instruction, or literacy instruction. Next, teachers will administer instruction (which varies by condition) in small groups for 15 minutes per session, 3 times a week, for 7 months. Researchers will observe classrooms to ensure fidelity of implementation. Finally, students will complete post-tests at the end of the school year.

Control Condition: The two control conditions are business-as-usual literacy instruction and math instruction.

Key Measures: Key measures include a researcher-developed pattern test, the Woodcock-Johnson III Quantitative Concepts scales 18A, 18 B, and scale 10 (Applied Problems) to measure math skills, and the Test of Early Reading Ability Version 3 (TERA-3) and the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) tests of early literacy. To measure executive function skills as potential mediators, students will complete the Corsi Blocks task (working memory), the Day Night test (inhibition), and the Multiple Classification Card Sorting Task (MCCST; cognitive flexibility).

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will conduct analyses using structural equation modelling in Mplus version 7.4. They will model the treatment as an exogenous predictor, while also controlling children's pretest scores on literacy and mathematics. In addition to direct effects, the research team will test for any mediators (e.g., executive function skills) and moderators (e.g., demographic variables) of the effects.

Related IES Projects:  Increasing Learning By Promoting Early Abstract Thought (R305H030031) An Economical Improvement In Literacy and Numeracy (R305B070542) Focusing on the Efficacy of Teaching Advanced Forms of Patterning on First Graders' Improvements in Reading, Mathematics, and Reasoning Ability (R305A090353)