Effectiveness and responsiveness of a fraction vocabulary intervention for students experiencing mathematics difficulty in grade 4

Lin, Xin, Ph. D.
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The purposes of this dissertation project were to investigate the initial efficacy of a pilot fraction vocabulary intervention for fourth-grade students with mathematics difficulty (MD) and to explore potential moderators for the initial efficacy of the fraction vocabulary intervention. A focus on fraction vocabulary is essential because students with MD demonstrate difficulty with both fractions and understanding mathematics vocabulary. In this quasi-experimental study, I assigned the 33 students either to the intervention condition (n = 16) or to a BAU comparison condition (n = 17). The intervention occurred 25 min per session for three sessions per week for four weeks (i.e., 11 sessions). Results indicated the main effect of the intervention was significant for fraction vocabulary posttest and one transfer test—fraction arithmetic. Furthermore, pre-intervention skills (i.e., comparing fractions, working memory) moderated intervention effects. Students with greater pre-intervention knowledge in comparing fractions and working memory capacity gained more from the intervention. These results indicated that a) students with MD can successfully learn fraction vocabulary intervention via a brief intervention; b) improved fraction vocabulary knowledge may transfer to fraction competencies; and c) students’ pre-intervention skills might moderate students’ responsiveness to intervention. Implications of these findings are discussed.