The effects of schema-based intervention on the mathematical word problem solving skills of middle school students with learning disabilities
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A schema-based instruction allows students to approach a mathematics problem by focusing on the underlying semantic or problem structure, thus facilitating conceptual understanding and adequate skills. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of schema-based intervention on the mathematical word problem solving skills of middle school students with learning disabilities in grades 6 and 7. A nonconcurrent multiple baseline design was used for the study. Four middle school students with learning disabilities participated in pre-experimental (i.e., introduction, screening test, and Mathematics Interest Inventory sessions) and experimental (i.e., baseline, intervention, post-intervention test with generalization test, and maintenance test) sessions over a 13-week period. Participants were randomly assigned to a priori baseline durations (i.e., 6, 9, 12, 17 days) (Watson & Workman, 1981). During the intervention phase, students received 12 sessions of individual 30-35 minute schema-based intervention for 6 days (i.e., 2 sessions per day). Students participated in guided and independent practice and were encouraged to ask questions as they worked to master the material taught in each intervention session. During the postintervention phase, the four students’ accuracy performance was evaluated by six untimed achievement or generalization tests. The achievement and generalization tests contained a total of 10 one-step multiplication and division word problems. All of the students achieved scores greater than a pre-determined criterion level of 70% accuracy on the six consecutive tests. Two weeks after termination of the post intervention phase, each student’s accuracy performance on the achievement and generalization tests was examined during the follow-up maintenance phase. Findings revealed that the four students’ performance substantially improved after they received the intervention. All four students achieved scores that exceeded the criterion level (70% accuracy) on the achievement tests during the post intervention phase. These findings provide empirical evidence that schema-based intervention is effective in teaching middle school students with learning disabilities to solve multiplication and division word problems. Limitations of the research and implications for practice and future research are discussed.