Enhancing Engagement and Conceptual Understanding of Fractions for Students with Learning Disabilities using the Model Mathematics Education Curriculum
More than 140 rural and urban students with learning disabilities and difficulties, grades 4-6, use an innovative, integrated curriculum to bolster engagement in and conceptual understanding of fraction concepts and interest in STEM and ICT careers.
The Enhancing Engagement and Conceptual Understanding of Fractions for Students with Learning Disabilities using the Model Mathematics Education Curriculum is a Developing and Testing Innovations (DTI) project in the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program. This project advances efforts of ITEST program by developing an integrated curriculum for 4th - 6th grade students with learning disabilities and difficulties to increase engagement in and understanding of fraction concepts. The project will impact 140 elementary and middle school students and their teachers in both rural and urban settings in North Carolina and Florida who have been underrepresented in STEM and have had limited opportunities to access and advance their STEM knowledge. The project engages students in universally-designed competitive gameplay and collaborative problem-solving challenges rooted in authentic STEM and ICT careers that have executive function scaffolds, cognitive tutoring, and dynamic assessments embedded within. The project will make use of models from successful startup businesses to build the games, measure outcomes, and revise them through testing with students. The project leverages industry and school partners to infuse the game into elementary and middle school intervention classrooms so that students can experience the game-based mathematics fraction curriculum. This project will help address a critical need to increase diversity of individuals in STEM through accessible learning environments that foster foundational mathematical learning while growing interest in STEM/ICT careers. This project is funded by the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program, which supports projects that build understandings of practices, program elements, contexts and processes contributing to increasing students' knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT) careers.
The project uses a pretest-intervention-posttest design with a comparison group to compare group differences in engagement, conceptual understanding, and STEM interest through questionnaires, pre-posttests, and game level trace data. Repeated measures with between-within student interactions will be used to examine increases in student conceptual understanding, engagement, and interest in STEM careers between Model Mathematics Education and comparison groups. Linear regressions will be run to assess associations of instrument/survey responses at pre and during with the responses at posttest. Data analytics will be collected during gameplay for students in the Model Mathematics Education condition. Mixed-effects models and educational data mining techniques will be used to assess sequences of interactions and relationships between event-level learning analytics and game performance. Students in the Model Mathematics Education intervention are expected to demonstrate higher levels of engagement, exhibit greater conceptual understanding of fractions, and report higher interest in STEM/ICT careers than students in the comparison condition after nine weeks of the curriculum. Main products include the development and iterative refinement of the game-based mathematics curriculum, pilot testing with students and their teachers, and a viable web-based software and curriculum package. By working with students with disabilities in intervention classrooms, this project will maximize the potential for generating knowledge regarding features of curricula that broaden participation among this population by increasing interest in STEM careers. Dissemination efforts are twofold and include the project website, which will provide free access to the curriculum, and professional development activities as well as opportunities to interact and share feedback on the platform. Feedback on the curriculum will be garnered through engagement of professionals from computer science, industrial engineering, civil engineering, nursing, and fire safety.