The study was conducted in 32 schools in a large metropolitan area in the southeastern United States. Instruction in both study conditions (intervention and comparison) took place in special education resource rooms.
Of the students in the full analytic sample: 67 percent were male and 33 percent were female; 79 percent were Caucasian, 16 percent were African American, 1 percent were Native American, 1 percent were multiracial, and 3 percent were an unspecified race; 2 percent identified as Hispanic; 38 percent had a mild mental disability, 15 percent had a specific learning disability, 8 percent had autism, 6 percent had an emotional/behavioral disability, and 34 percent had another health impairment; and 74 percent were eligible for subsidized lunch.The majority of the students were in grades 7 and 8, and all were identified as having disabilities in mathematics.
Participating classrooms in intervention schools implemented the enhanced anchored instruction (EAI) curriculum, an instructional method developed for improving the computation and problem solving skills of middle school students with disabilities in math. The intervention classrooms implemented EAI for 94.1 instructional days, on average. Class sessions lasted between 45 and 60 minutes, though some classes met for 90 minutes. The intervention involved interactive lessons with computers, anchored problems displayed through video, and applied projects that were hands on, using a mix of explicit instruction and problem solving activities. The intervention consisted of five units. The first unit, Fractions at Work, was a series of computer modules that helped build competence with rational numbers. The second unit, Fraction of the Cost, was a computer-based exercise where students managed available funds and materials in order to build a skateboard ramp. The third unit was a hovercraft project, a hands on activity where students designed and built rollover cages for a hovercraft. The fourth unit, Kim's Komet, was a video episode that required students to use time and distance to calculate speed. The fifth unit was a grand pentathlon during which students competed in a pentathlon of events and graphed times and distances from the event results and used them to calculate speed.
In comparison classrooms, teachers followed their school's normal math curricula, which were aligned with the Combined Curriculum Document of their state's Department of Education. The comparison condition lasted an average of 93.7 instructional days. Most class sessions were between 45 and 60 minutes in length, though some classes met for 90 minutes.
Support for implementation
Teachers attended a two-day summer workshop led by a middle school math teacher with multiple years of experience using EAI. During this workshop, teachers worked in groups to complete the tasks that they would be assigning to their students and discussed issues related to the lessons and use of technology. The workshop was videotaped and placed on a computer server so that teachers could review it during the school year. The intervention materials also included daily lesson plans for teachers.