WWC review of this study

Examining a Preteaching Framework to Improve Fraction Computation Outcomes among Struggling Learners [Pre-teaching plus concrete-representational-abstract instructional sequence vs. supplemental reading instruction]

Watt, Sarah J.; Therrien, William J. (2016). Preventing School Failure, v60 n4 p311-319. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1110067

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: February 2020

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Algebra and Algebraic Reasoning outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Basic Skills Algebra curriculum-based measure

Targeted Math Intervention vs. (Not applicable)

0 Days

Full sample;
32 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 40%
    Male: 60%
  • Race
    Other or unknown
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    


All students in the study attended one of two elementary schools. Across the two schools, there were four classrooms. No information is provided about the schools (e.g., whether they were public, private, charter, etc.) or their location.

Study sample

Fifty-six percent of the sample qualified for free or reduced price lunch. The racial and ethnic breakdown of the sample was 34% African American, 44% white, 19% Hispanic, and 3% Middle Eastern. Forty percent of the sample was female and 60% of the sample was male. 59% of the sample was receiving tier 2 supplemental support, 26% was receiving tier 3 comprehensive support, and 15% of the sample had an IEP.

Intervention Group

Prior to the class receiving instruction on fractions, students in the intervention group participated in 10 30-minute sessions (five per week). These sessions took place during a time period during the school day when all students worked in small groups or participated in teacher-led groups. During the 10 sessions, preteaching was provided for three skills: comparing the size of two fractions using symbols (<, =, or >), reducing fractions to their simplest forms, and addition and subtraction with fractions that had the same denominator, as well as those with different denominators. In the instruction period, the first session provided introductory material, including introducing students to new vocabulary and showing them how to use the manipulatives that would be used in later sessions. This was followed by 3 sessions of instruction for each of the three skills. The three sessions progressed through the CRA (concrete-representational-abstract) teaching sequence. During the first session (concrete) for each skill, instruction consisted of modeling and practice with manipulatives. During the second session (representational), students worked with pictorial representations of the same ideas they had previously worked on with concrete manipulatives. Finally, during the third (abstract) section, students worked on the same skill area, this time using numbers and symbols. On this day, they also completed practice worksheets. If teachers did not feel students were ready to move onto the next step in the sequence (i.e., from concrete to representational or from representational to abstract), they would provide additional instruction to students at their level.

Comparison Group

Students who were assigned to the control condition participated in a supplemental reading group.

Support for implementation

Both of the teachers participated in training on how to administer the intervention. Training was provided through webinars. Teachers also received materials to read about the strategies they would be teaching. In total, teachers received 4 hours of training.


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