The need for evidence-based research in the area of mathematics achievement is very important, yet our review of the literature reveals that there is a lack of current research concerning students with special needs and their uses of technology in this area. Read more about CITEd’s approach to the literature review in mathematics.

The review is organized into the following subtopics, each with a short practitioner-friendly article:

SubTopics 

K-2 Games/Drill & Practice
3-5 Games/Drill & Practice
3-5 Screen-Based Manipulatives
K-5 Cooperative Learning
5-8 Enhanced Anchored Instruction
6-8 Games/Drill & Practice
6-8 Cooperative Learning
6-8 Screen-Based Manipulatives
6-8 Computer-Based Feedback
K-8 Multimedia Embedded Supports
K-8 Web-Based Activities
Identifying Challenges to Technology Integration in Math Instruction
Creative Solutions to Technology Integration Challenges in Mathematics

Screen-based technologies (i.e., those technologies that are presented on a computer screen) have evolved rapidly over the past two decades. Research on these evolving technologies is quite robust, but few screen-based educational technology practices have a research base sufficient to call them evidence-based. Additionally, although technology is generally thought of as particularly helpful for students with disabilities, technology rarely aligns with the needs of students with disabilities or is used for motivational rather than academic purposes.

Evidence Findings

Our review and synthesis of research in K-8 screen-based technology revealed seven educational technology practices: 

  • Multimedia Embedded Supports
  • Games/Drill and Practice
  • Screen-Based Manipulatives
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Enhanced Anchored Instruction
  • Computer-Based Feedback
  • Web-Based Activities

References [Hide]

Axelrod, S., McGregor, G., Sherman, J. & Hamlet, C. (1987). Effects of video games as reinforcers for computerized addition performance. Journal of Special Education Technology, 9(1), 1-8.

Babbitt, B., & Miller, S. (1996). Using hypermedia to improve the mathematics problem-solving skills of students with disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 29(4), 391-401.

Bottge, B., Heinrichs, M., Chan, S., & Serlin, R. (2001). Anchoring adolescents' understanding of math concepts in rich problem-solving environments. Remedial and Special Education, 22, 299-314.

Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hamlett, C. L., & Appleton, A. C. (2002). Explicitly teaching for transfer: Effects on the mathematical problem-solving performance of students with mathematics disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 17(2), 90-107.

Johnson, R., Johnson, D., & Stanne, M. (1986). Comparison of computer-assisted cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning. American Educational Research Journal, 23(3), 382-392.

Moreno, R., & Duran, R. (2004). Do multiple representations need explanations? The role of verbal guidance and individual differences in multimedia mathematics learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(3), 492-503.

Okolo, C. (1992). The effects of computer-based attribution retraining on the attributions, persistence, and mathematics computation of students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 25(5), 327-334.

Shield, M. (2000). Virtual "real life" mathematics. Australian Mathematics Teacher, 56(3), 25-28.

 

 

Sub-Topic: K-2 Games/Drill & Practice

Recently, researchers have found value in using mathematics computer programs that focus on learning discipline-specific concepts such as fractions, geometry, or place value. In previous research from the 1980s, the central finding was that computers do not appear to be more effective than traditional paper-and-pencil instruction as a means for helping students engage in lower-ordering thinking. Yet these recent findings are important to keep in mind when purchasing mathematics software. For readers who want to learn more, click here and/or see the references below.

References [Hide]

Axelrod, S., McGregor, G., Sherman, J., & Hamlet, C. (1987). Effects of video games as reinforcers for computerized addition performance. Journal of Special Education Technology, 9(1), 1-8.

Fuson, K. & Brinko, K. (1985). The comparative effectiveness of microcomputers and flash cards in the drill and practice of basic mathematics facts. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 16(3), 225-232.

Garofolo, J., & Sharp, B. D. (2003). Teaching fractions using a simulated sharing activity. Learning & Leading with Technology, 30(7), 36-39.

 

Sub-Topic: 3-5 Games/Drill & Practice

At first glance, researchers' work with instructional technology from the 1980s seems outdated and of little use. These researchers found that the impact of traditional drill and practice on student learning was limited. Yet their conclusions regarding instructional feedback, individualized instruction, and engagement are important to keep in mind when purchasing mathematics software for students with or without special needs. For readers who want to learn more, click here and/or see the references below.

References [Hide]

Christensen, C., & Gerber, M. (1990). Effectiveness of computerized drill and practice games in teaching basic math facts. Exceptionality, 1(3), 149-165.

Okolo, C. (1992). The effects of computer-assisted instruction format and initial attitude on the arithmetic facts proficiency and continuing motivation of students with learning disabilities. Exceptionality 3, 195-211.

Wilson, R., Majsterek, D., & Simmons, D. (1996). The effects of computer-assisted versus teacher directed instruction on the multiplication performance of elementary students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 29 (4), 382-390.

 

Sub-Topic: 3-5 Screen-Based Manipulatives

Though studies continuously reveal the importance of students using manipulatives (e.g., 3D number blocks) to reinforce concepts in mathematics, there is limited research in this area that includes the use of technology. What research is available points out the importance of using digital (or virtual) manipulatives that are interactive and flexible enough to allow students to explore mathematical concepts with great depth. For readers who want to learn more, click here and/or see the references below.

References [Hide]

Cotter, J. A. (2000). Using language and visualization to teach place value. Teaching Children Mathematics, 7(2), 108-114.

Flanagan, R. (1996, April). Unintended Results of Using Instructional Media: A Study of Second- and Third-Graders. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Education Research Association, New York, NY. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 394 514).

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. Website of manipulatives used in Patricia Moyer's research on interactive, Web-based manipulatives: (http://matti.usu.edu).

Reimer, K. & Moyer, P. (2005). Third-graders learn about fractions using virtual manipulatives: A classroom study. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 24(1), 5-25.

Rust, A. (1999). A study of the benefits of math manipulatives versus standard curriculum in the comprehension of mathematical concepts. Dissertation Paper. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. 436395).

 

Sub-Topic: K-5 Cooperative Learning

Researchers have found that teaching mathematics using computer-assisted instruction in a cooperative learning structure is an effective way to increase academic (e.g., mathematics achievement) and behavioral (e.g., attitudinal and social) outcomes. This type of instruction involves teaching children in cooperative (e.g., pairs-based) rather than whole-class learning situations. For readers who want to learn more, click here and/or see the references below.

References [Hide]

Butzin, S. (2001). Using instructional technology in transformed learning environments: An evaluation of project CHILD. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33(4), 367-373.

Xin, F. (1996). The effects of computer-assisted cooperative learning in mathematics in integrated classrooms for students with and without disabilities. Rowan College of New Jersey, Special Education Department. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED412696).

 

Sub-Topic: 5-8 Enhanced Anchored Instruction

Researchers have found that contextualized problems are effective ways to engage students in the acquisition of problem-solving skills that they are then able to apply to other mathematical word problems. This type of instruction presents problems in a real-world context, allowing students to structure the problem, collect relevant data, form a hypothesis, and finally, solve a problem. For readers who want to learn more, click here and/or see the references below.

References [Hide]

Bottge, B. A. (1999). Effects of contextualized math instruction on problem solving of average and below-average achieving students. The Journal of Special Education, 33(2), 81-92.

Bottge, B.A., Heinrichs, M., Chan, S., & Serlin, R. (2001). Anchoring adolescents' understanding of math concepts in rich problem-solving environments. Remedial and Special Education, 22, 299-314.

Bottge, B. A., Heinrichs, M., Chan, S., Mehta, Z. D., & Watson, E. (2003). Effects of video-based and applied problems on the procedural math skills of average- and low-achieving adolescents. Journal of Special Education Technology, 18(2), 5-22.

 

Sub-Topic: 6-8 Games/Drill & Practice

Researchers have examined the use of games and drill and practice on students' academic and behavioral outcomes in a number of ways, including comparing computerized drill and practice to non-computerized drill and practice, and comparing computerized drill and practice embedded in games to regular computerized drill and practice. Generally, student outcomes are better after doing drill and practice on the computer, and a game format may prove to distract children from learning the mathematical content. For readers who want to learn more, click here and/or see the references below.

References [Hide]

Bahr, C.M. & Reith, H.J. (1989). The effects of instructional computer games and drill and practice software on learning disabled students' mathematical achievement. Computers in the School, 6 (3/4)), 87-101.

Christensen, C., & Gerber, M. (1990). Effectiveness of computerized drill and practice games in teaching basic math facts. Exceptionality, 1(3), 149-165.

 

Sub-Topic: 6-8 Cooperative Learning

Researchers have found that teaching mathematics using computer-assisted instruction in a cooperative structure is a promising way to increase students' academic and behavioral outcomes. This type of instruction involves teaching children in cooperative (e.g., pairs-based) rather than whole-class, competitive, or individual learning formats. For readers who want to learn more, click here and/or see the references below.

References [Hide]

Johnson, R., Johnson, D., & Stanne, M. (1986). Comparison of computer-assisted cooperative, competitive, and individualistic learning. American Educational Research Journal, 23(3), 382-392.

Wilson, M. (1999). Student-generated multimedia presentations: Tools to help build and communicate mathematical understanding. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 18(2), 145-156.

 

Sub-Topic: 6-8 Screen-Based Manipulatives

Virtual manipulatives, or models that can be transformed and manipulated on a computer screen, are becoming increasingly popular. However, research on their use is limited, and there are indications in the research that students who struggle to learn math may need additional support and structure when using virtual manipulatives. For readers who want to learn more, click here and/or see the references below.

References [Hide]

Hannafin, R. D. (2004). Achievement differences in structured versus unstructured instructional geometry programs. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52(1), 19-32.

Moreno, R., & Durán, R. (2004). Do multiple representations need explanations? The role of verbal guidance and individual differences in multimedia mathematics learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(3), 492-503.

Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (1999). Multimedia-supported metaphors for meaning making in mathematics. Cognition and Instruction, 17(3), 215-248.

 

Sub-Topic: 6-8 Computer-Based Feedback

Although many computer-based math practice programs provide students with feedback on their answers, research on the effectiveness of this feedback is scarce. One study found that feedback on both accuracy and effort was more beneficial than feedback on accuracy alone. For readers who want to learn more, click here and/or see the references below.

Reference [Hide]

Okolo, C. (1992). The effects of computer-based attribution retraining on the attributions, persistence, and mathematics computation of students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 25(5), 327-334.

 

Sub-Topic: K-8 Multimedia Embedded Supports

Mathematical word problems challenge students of all ages. As the multimedia capabilities of computers and software available to public schools improve, researchers continue to explore the possibilities of a corresponding improvement in students' mathematical problem-solving skills. Research shows that the effectiveness of hypermedia programs in improving students' mathematical problem-solving skills varies; however, experts are able to conclude that scaffolding these skills with and without digital technology is extremely effective for diverse learners. For readers who want to learn more, click here and/or see the references below.

References [Hide]

Babbitt, B. & Miller, S. (1996). Using hypermedia to improve the mathematics problem-solving skills of students with disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 29(4), 391-401.

Fuchs, L..S., Fuchs, D., Hamlett, C.L., & Appleton, A.C. (2002). Explicitly teaching for transfer:Effects on the mathematical problem-solving performance of students with mathematics disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 17(2), 90-107.

Goetzfried, L. & Hannafin, M. (1985). The effect of the locus of CAI control strategies on the learning of mathematical rules. American Educational Research Journal, 22(2), 273-278.

Montague, M., & Bos, C. (1986). The effect of cognitive strategy training on verbal math problem solving performance of learning disabled adolescents. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 19, 26-55.

Shiah, R., Mastropieri, M., Scruggs, T., & Fulk, B. (1994). The effects of computer-assisted instruction on the mathematical problem solving of students with learning disabilities. Exceptionality, 5(3), 131-161.

 

Sub-Topic: K-8 Web-Based Activities

Mathematics teachers are often challenged to find resources that are helpful in developing a curriculum that meets the content standards outlined by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Researchers suggest that the Internet contains a number of real-world web-based activities that can be used for applied problem-solving in the classroom. The web-based sites may be particularly motivating to students to learn the content because the sites are often of relevance to students' everyday lives. For readers who want to learn more, click here and/or see the references below.

Reference [Hide]

Shield, M. (2000). Virtual "real life" mathematics. Australian Mathematics Teacher,56 (3), 25-28.

Subtopic: Identifying Challenges to Technology Integration in Math Instruction: Lessons Learned from CITEd Focus Groups

To learn more about the challenges facing districts and schools, CITEd conducted seven focus groups in 2005 in urban and suburban locations. The dialogues focused on the difficulties that students with disabilities encounter in learning mathematics, instructional strategies, and how teachers integrate technology. Here we discuss the challenges to these efforts the participants shared. For readers who want to learn more, click here.


Subtopic: Creative Solutions to Technology Integration Challenges in Mathematics: Lessons Learned from CITEd Focus Groups

Building on the above, here we share the creative solutions participants employed in their settings. For readers who want to learn more, click here.


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