Comparing students with mathematics learning disabilities and students with low mathematics achievement in solving mathematics word problems
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This study identified factors related to solving mathematical word problems and then examined the differences in characteristics between students with low achievement in mathematics who were likely to have a learning disability and students with low achievement in mathematics who were unlikely to have a learning disability. Factoral analysis identified two significant factors: abstract thinking and long term retrieval from memory. Results indicated qualitative differences between sixth grade students with achievement in mathematics at or below the 25th percentile with indications of learning disabilities (MLD) and students with achievement in mathematics at or below the 25th percentile without an indication of a learning disability (Low Math/NLD). The Learning Disabilities Diagnostic Inventory, which measures intrinsic processing disorders indicative of learning disabilities, was used to differentiate between students with MLD (n = 13) and students with Low Math/NLD (n = 16). The Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement, Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-Fourth Edition, and the Informal Mathematics Assessment (IFA) were used to compare the two groups. In contrast to students with MLD, students with Low Math/NLD had a higher mathematical performance and had more difficulties with math fluency. When solving mathematics word problems on the IFA, a test composed of word problems, student interview, and error analysis, students with Low Math/NLD had more correct answers, more computational errors, and fewer translation errors than students with MLD did. Students with MLD had conceptual difficulties in the areas of analyzing, reasoning, and abstract thinking.