A meta-analysis published in the Learning Disabilities Journal has synthesized the findings of interventions designed to improve the mathematics achievement of secondary school students with mathematics difficulties (MD).
A group of nine researchers performed a systematic literature review focusing on mathematics interventions targeting two categories of students having a MD: students with a documented disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (i.e., math LD) and students with persistent low mathematics achievement at the secondary level.
The authors identified 45 studies that met their inclusion criteria reporting findings for 49 interventions from which 139 effect sizes were extracted and used for the meta-analysis. They obtained a positive, statistically significant mean effect of +0.52 (p < .001), suggesting that the math interventions were generally effective.
- In terms of moderators of treatment effects, the results of meta-regression found significant effects for two intervention characteristics (i.e., including content domain and intervention duration), and two study design characteristics (i.e., type of measure and fidelity of implementation), and with non-significant effects on the other intervention and study design features tested.
- Subgroup analysis identified three intervention models, Cognitive Based Instruction (g = +0.83), Technology-Based Interventions (g = +0.50), and Visual Representation (g = +0.45), that produced a statistically significant mean effect sizes, while the other intervention models did not.
- In relation to content domains, four content domains, including fractions (g = +0.45), numbers and operations (g = +0.40), ratios and proportions (g = +0.41), and multiple content domains (g = +0.79), produced statistically significant mean effect sizes in subgroup analysis.
These results have important implications for teachers practice since they extend the evidence-base of those interventions reviewed as effective to improve math performance across multiple math domains in secondary students with MD.
Source: Myers, J. A., Brownell, M. T., Griffin, C. C., Hughes, E. M., Witzel, B. S., Gage, N. A., Peyton, D., Acosta, K., & Wang, J. (2021). Mathematics interventions for adolescents with mathematics difficulties: A meta-analysis. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 36(2), 145–166. https://doi.org/10.1111/ldrp.12244