Remediating Number Combination and Word Problem Deficits Among Students With Mathematics Difficulties: A Randomized Control Trial

J Educ Psychol. 2009 Aug 1;101(3):561-576. doi: 10.1037/a0014701.


The purposes of this study were to assess the efficacy of remedial tutoring for 3rd graders with mathematics difficulty, to investigate whether tutoring is differentially efficacious depending on students' math difficulty status (mathematics difficulty alone vs. mathematics plus reading difficulty), to explore transfer from number combination (NC) remediation, and to examine the transportability of the tutoring protocols. At 2 sites, 133 students were stratified on mathematics difficulty status and site and then randomly assigned to 3 conditions: control (no tutoring), tutoring on automatic retrieval of NCs (i.e., Math Flash), or tutoring on word problems with attention to the foundational skills of NCs, procedural calculations, and algebra (i.e., Pirate Math). Tutoring occurred for 16 weeks, 3 sessions per week and 20-30 min per session. Math Flash enhanced fluency with NCs with transfer to procedural computation but without transfer to algebra or word problems. Pirate Math enhanced word problem skill as well as fluency with NCs, procedural computation, and algebra. Tutoring was not differentially efficacious as a function of students' mathematics difficulty status. The tutoring protocols proved transportable across sites.