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IES Grant

Title: The Math Learning Companion: An Individualized Intervention for Students with Math Learning Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2009
Principal Investigator: Crawford, Lindy Awardee: Texas Christian University
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics      [Program Details]
Award Period: 7/1/09 – 6/30/12 Award Amount: $1,495,898
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A090340

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop and demonstrate the feasibility of the Math Learning Companion, a web-based mathematics intervention for sixth grade students struggling with mathematics. The research team will also conduct a pilot study to assess the promise of the intervention for improving student outcomes in a pre-test and post-test study design. The development of the Math Learning Companion is based on pedagogical principles for students with disabilities including explicit instruction, scaffolds, distributive and massed practice, corrective feedback, and positive reinforcement.

Project Activities: The project team will develop each component of the Math Learning Companion and test the functionality and feasibility of the intervention in a series of classroom studies. In these studies, individual components will be implemented, and the researchers will collect focus group, interview, and observation data on the functionality and feasibility of each component. Content alignment studies will examine the extent of overlap between the curriculum objectives targeted by the intervention and the developed lessons. When each of the components appears to function as intended, the team will implement the entire Math Learning Companion intervention and assess the promise of the intervention for improving student outcomes.

Products: The products of this project include a fully developed Math Learning Companion, a technology-based mathematics intervention designed for sixth-grade students with mathematics learning disabilities who are at risk of failing grade-level math. The project team will also present findings in published reports and presentations.

Setting: The research takes place in middle schools in Colorado.

Population: The studies will involve sixth grade students, including those identified as having a learning disability in mathematics, and their teachers.

Intervention: The project team will develop the Math Learning Companion which consists of four primary components: (1) a supplemental sixth-grade mathematics curriculum with 48 standards-aligned multimedia lessons and additional self-paced content; (2) support tools, including accommodations for students and reports for teachers; (3) diagnostic math probes and assessments, as well as a progress monitoring system, designed to measure studentsí growth through the curriculum; and (4) an adaptive engine to capture student-program interactions, establish learner profiles and trajectories, and sequence content and provide feedback to match student needs. The Math Learning Companion is delivered online and designed for students to log-in individually and complete lessons and activities. Teachers are able to track all student activity via the internet.

Research Design and Methods: The iterative development process involves mapping mathematics content, writing instructional content, internal and external expert review, field testing and data collection, modification of content and component functionality, field testing again with revision, and final production. The field studies involve implementing individual components of the intervention in sixth-grade classrooms to test functionality and feasibility. When each of the components appears to function as intended, the team will implement the entire intervention in a pilot study and assess the promise of the intervention for improving student outcomes.

Control Condition: There is no control condition.

Key Measures: The researchers will use several measures to collect data during intervention development and during the pilot study. They include the Stages of Concern Questionnaire, an adapted version of the Technology Acceptance Model, as well as a variety of measures of student math learning including the Key Math Basic Skills subtest, a curriculum based math fluency pre and posttest, and a curriculum based measure adapted from prior research. The researchers will also conduct semi-structured interviews with students and collect data using a classroom observation tool.

Data Analytic Strategy: Qualitative analyses of data from teacher and student surveys, classroom observations, and student interviews will involve coding to identify themes that will be used to guide revisions to the intervention. Pre-test and post-test gains on mathematics content measures will be examined using t-tests to assess promise of the intervention. The researchers will conduct dose-response analysis to identify correlations between students' usage of the technology and gains on pre-and post- measures.


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Crawford, L. (2013). Effects of an Online Mathematics Curriculum for English Language Learners. Computers in the Schools, 30(3): 248–270. doi:10.1080/07380569.2013.805665

Crawford, L., Carpenter, D.M., Wilson, M.T., Schmeister, M., and McDonald, M. (2012). Testing the Relationship Between Fidelity of Implementation and Student Outcomes in Math. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 37(4): 224–235. doi:10.1177/1534508411436111

Crawford, L., Higgins, K., and Freeman, B. (2012). Exploring the Use of Active Electronic Support Tools by Students With Learning Disabilities. Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 18(3): 135–143.