Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The effects of a modified learning strategy on the multiple step mathematical word problem solving ability of middle school students with high-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome
by Schaefer Whitby, Peggy J., Ph.D., University of Central Florida, 2009, 268; 3383694
Abstract (Summary)

Children with HFA/AS are outperformed by their neuro-typical peers on mathematical problem solving skills even though they have average-to-above-average intelligence (Dickerson Mayes & Calhoun, 2003b); have average-to-above-average computation skills (Chiang & Lin, 2007); and, are educated in the general education setting (Twenty Eighth Annual Report to Congress, 2008). In order to graduate with a regular diploma, all students must take and pass three high school mathematics courses including algebra I. Students with HFA/AS present with a unique set of cognitive deficits that may prevent achievement in the mathematics curriculum, even though they present with average mathematical skills. The purpose of the study was to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the use of a modified learning strategy to increase the mathematical word problem solving ability of children with high functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome; determine if the use of Solve It! increases the self-perceptions of mathematical ability, attitudes towards mathematics and attitudes towards solving mathematical word problems; and, determine if Solve It! cue cards or a Solve It! multimedia academic story works best as a prime to increase the percentage correct if the student does not maintain use of the strategy.

The subjects were recruited from a central Florida school district. Diagnosis of ASD was confirmed by a review of records and the completion of the Autism Diagnostic Inventory-Revised (Lord, Rutter, & Le Couteur, 2005). Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement (Woodcock, McGrew, & Mather, 2001) subtest scores for reading comprehension and mathematical computation were completed to identify the current level of functioning. The Mathematical Problem Solving Assessment-Short Form (Montague, 1996) was administered to determine the need for word problem solving intervention. The subjects were then taught a mathematical word problem solving strategy called Solve It!, during non-content course time at their schools. Generalization data were collected in each subject’s regular education mathematics classroom. Sessions were video-taped, work samples were scored, and then graphed using a multiple baseline format. Three weeks after the completion of the study, maintenance data were collected. If subjects did not maintain a high use of the strategy, they were entered into the second study to determine if a video prime or written prime served best to increase word problem solving.

The results of the study indicate a functional relationship between the use of the Solve It! strategy and the percentage correct on curriculum based mathematical word problems. The subjects obtained efficient use of strategy use in five training sessions and applied the strategy successfully for five acquisition sessions. Percentage correct on mathematical word problems ranged from 20% during baseline to 100% during training and acquisition trials. Error analysis indicated reading comprehension interference and probable executive functioning interference. Students who did not maintain strategy use quickly returned to intervention level using a prime. Both primes, cue cards and multimedia academic story, increased performance back to intervention levels for two students. However, one prime, the multimedia academic story and not the cue cards, increased performance back to intervention levels for one student.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wienke, Wilfred, Pearl, Cynthia
School: University of Central Florida
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 70/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Middle School education, Special education
Keywords: Asperger syndrome, Asperger's syndrome, Autism, Cognitive strategy instruction, Learning strategy, Mathematics, Middle school, Word problems
Publication Number: 3383694
ISBN: 9781109480290
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