Effects of First-Grade Number Knowledge Tutoring With Contrasting Forms of Practice

J Educ Psychol. 2013 Jan 1;105(1):58-77. doi: 10.1037/a0030127.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of 1st-grade number knowledge tutoring with contrasting forms of practice. Tutoring occurred 3 times per week for 16 weeks. In each 30-min session, the major emphasis (25 min) was number knowledge; the other 5 min provided practice in 1 of 2 forms. Nonspeeded practice reinforced relations and principles addressed in number knowledge tutoring. Speeded practice promoted quick responding and use of efficient counting procedures to generate many correct responses. At-risk students were randomly assigned to number knowledge tutoring with speeded practice (n = 195), number knowledge tutoring with nonspeeded practice (n = 190), and control (no tutoring, n = 206). Each tutoring condition produced stronger learning than control on all 4 mathematics outcomes. Speeded practice produced stronger learning than nonspeeded practice on arithmetic and 2-digit calculations, but effects were comparable on number knowledge and word problems. Effects of both practice conditions on arithmetic were partially mediated by increased reliance on retrieval, but only speeded practice helped at-risk children compensate for weak reasoning ability.

Keywords: arithmetic; fluency; mathematics; practice; word problems.