Accelerating mathematics word problem-solving performance and efficacy with think-aloud strategies

South African Journal of Childhood Education. 2019;9(1):e1-e10 DOI 10.4102/sajce.v9i1.716


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: South African Journal of Childhood Education

ISSN: 2223-7674 (Print); 2223-7682 (Online)

Publisher: University of Johannesburg

Society/Institution: University of Johannesburg, Institute of Childhood Education, Faculty of Education

LCC Subject Category: Education: Special aspects of education | Education: Theory and practice of education

Country of publisher: South Africa

Language of fulltext: English

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Piia M. Björn (School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu)

Aino Äikäs (Department of Special Education, School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu)

Airi Hakkarainen (School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu)

Minna Kyttälä (Department of Education, University of Turku, Turku)

Lynn S. Fuchs (Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, Nashville)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 25 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Background: The previous body of research literature has reported several separate cognitive processes relevant in solving mathematics wps. Therefore, it is of the essence to seek for effective intervention and instruction for students in need for support in learning. Aim: This article reports the outcome of an intervention targeted at mathematics word problem (wp) skills. Setting: This study included three data collection points: (1) Premeasurements, (2) post-measurements and (3) follow-up measurements. Pre-measurements were performed in August, post-measurements immediately after the intervention period in October and follow-up measurements in December. Methods: A programme, which included face-to-face support in mathematics wp strategies with the think-aloud protocol, was applied. The participants were 28 Finnish third-graders (14 training group students and 14 control students). Their mathematics wp skills were tested three times (pre-, post- and follow-up assessments). The groups were matched by gender, family type and the mathematics wp pre-measurement score level. The groups differed neither by literacy skills (i.e. technical reading, reading comprehension) nor by task orientation at baseline. Results: Some acceleration of mathematics wp skills among the training group students was found but the growth dramatically declined as soon as the face-to-face support stopped. The results further showed improvement in the efficacy of correct answers or attempted mathematics wp items among training group students. Conclusion: The results suggested that training consisting of face-to-face support is crucial for accelerating mathematics wp strategies among students struggling with mathematics. Repeated, cyclic periods of support are suggested for sustained effect.