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Closing the Gap: How an Adaptive Behavioral Based Program on a Tablet Can Help Low Performing Children Catch Up in Math: a Randomized Placebo Controlled Study
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2645-4831
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Early mathematic skills have a substantial impact on later school achievement. Children with poor school achievement are at risk for adverse consequences later in life. Math competencies also have consequences for the economy at large because societies are becoming increasingly dependent on skill sets including mathematics. Proficiency with basic arithmetic, also known as math fact (i.e., 3+8, 12-3), is considered to be a critical early math skill. Intervention research in mathematics have demonstrated that math fact deficits among students with low math performance can be improved with additional targeted, non- technological interventions (i.e., small-group tutoring).

The aim of the present thesis was to investigate the effect, using a randomized placebo controlled design, of addititional adaptive, behavioral based, math training on a tablet on low performing second graders. The first study (study I), investigated if arithmetic skills could be assessed in a reliable and valid way on tablet. The examination showed that arithmetic scales could be transferred from paper-based tests to tablet with comparable psychometric properties, although not for a pictorial scale, and that separate norms are needed for tablet. Study II demonstrated that training on a tablet, for on average 19 hours across 20 weeks, improved basic arithmetic skills after training in the math conditions compared to control/ placebo conditions. The effects were medium sized at post assessment. There was a fadeout of effects at 6 months follow-up, where small effects were shown, and the effects decreased further at 12 months follow-up. Children with lower non-verbal IQ seemed to gain significantly more at follow- ups than children with higher non-verbal IQ. The study found no additional effects of combining working memory training and math training. Study III, using a machine learning analysis, found that children demonstrating a positive response at 6 months follow-up were characterized by having completed 90 % or more of the math program at the default level, in combination with having a fairly favorable socioeconomic background.

In summation, this work demonstrates how an adaptive behavioral based program on a tablet can help low performing children improve critical early math skills.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2018. , p. 88
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 150
Keywords [en]
intervention, mathematics, tablet, fluency, short and long-term effects, educational technology
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-336694ISBN: 978-91-513-0200-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-336694DiVA, id: diva2:1166690
Public defence
2018-02-16, (13:026) Sydney Alrutz-salen, Blåsen hus, von Kraemers Allé 1A/1E, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-01-25 Created: 2017-12-15 Last updated: 2018-03-07
List of papers
1. Tablets instead of paper-based tests for young children? Comparability between paper and tablet versions of the mathematical Heidelberger Rechen Test 1-4
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Tablets instead of paper-based tests for young children? Comparability between paper and tablet versions of the mathematical Heidelberger Rechen Test 1-4
2018 (English)In: Educational Assessment, ISSN 1062-7197, E-ISSN 1532-6977, Vol. 23, no 3, p. 195-210Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Tablets can be used to facilitate systematic testing of academic skills. Yet, when using validated paper tests on tablet, comparability between the mediums must be established. Comparability between a tablet and a paper version of a basic math skills test (HRT: Heidelberger Rechen Test 1–4) was investigated. Five samples with second and third grade students participated. The associations between the tablet and paper version of HRT showed that these modes of administration were comparable for three arithmetic scales, but unacceptable for a pictorial counting scale. Scores were lower on tablet. Test-retest reliability for arithmetic scales on tablet was satisfactory, but was inferior for a low-performing sample. The overall convergent validity was satisfactory. No effect of test administrator was found. Arithmetic scales can potentially be transferred to tablet with good comparability and maintained test-retest reliability. Precautions are necessary when transferring pictorial scales into tablet. Separate norms for tablet are needed when interpreting scores.

National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-336678 (URN)10.1080/10627197.2018.1488587 (DOI)000440523100003 ()
Funder
Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, 2252/2010-158Sven Jerring Foundation
Available from: 2017-12-15 Created: 2017-12-15 Last updated: 2018-11-12Bibliographically approved
2. Short and Long-Term Effects of a Mathematics Tablet Intervention for Low Performing Second Graders
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Short and Long-Term Effects of a Mathematics Tablet Intervention for Low Performing Second Graders
2018 (English)In: Journal of Educational Psychology, ISSN 0022-0663, E-ISSN 1939-2176, Vol. 110, no 8, p. 1127-1148Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Using a randomized placebo controlled design, we examined the direct and follow-up effects (at 6 and 12 months) of a mathematics tablet intervention. Math training focused primarily on basic arithmetic (addition and subtraction facts up to 12), and secondarily on number knowledge and word problems. We investigated the moderating effects of IQ and socioeconomic factors, and additive effects of working memory (WM) training. A representative sample of 283 low performing second-grade students were randomly assigned to control (n = 52), reading placebo (n = 78), math intervention (MA; n = 76), or math plus WM training (MA + WM; n = 77). Both math conditions scored significantly higher than control and placebo on the posttest of basic arithmetic, but not on arithmetic transfer and problem solving. WM training did not show additive effects. Given the virtually identical patterns, we collapsed the control and placebo, respectively, MA and MA + WM conditions. The collapsed MA/MA + WM condition demonstrated significant medium-sized effects (d = 0.53-0.67) on basic arithmetic compared with the collapsed control/placebo condition at posttest. There was a fadeout of effects at 6-month follow-up (d = 0.18 -0.28), that declined further at 12 months (d = 0.03-0.13). IQ was a significant moderator of direct and long-term effects on addition up to 12 and subtraction up to 18, where students with lower IQ benefitted more than higher IQ students. Socioeconomic factors did not moderate outcome. The intervention effectively improved basic arithmetic among low performing second graders. Although the effects waned at 6-month follow-up, there was some indication that children with lower IQ demonstrated sustained gains.

Educational Impact and Implications Statement

This study shows that adaptive math training on tablet can help low performing 8-year-olds catch up about half a year of schooling in critical math skills. Students with lower IQ benefitted in particular and made long-term gains 12 months after training finished. Additional short-term memory training did not result in further math improvement. Because math is a strong predictor of later school achievement, these findings highlight the potential of well-designed adaptive teaching on tablets to significantly improve students' success at school. Evidence-based programs covering the bulk of elementary math might be widely spread, potentially at a low cost.

Keywords
tablet; fluency; short and long-term effects; working memory
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-336681 (URN)10.1037/edu0000264 (DOI)000448793500005 ()
Available from: 2017-12-15 Created: 2017-12-15 Last updated: 2018-12-18Bibliographically approved
3. Predicting long-term response in a mathematics tablet intervention
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Predicting long-term response in a mathematics tablet intervention
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-336691 (URN)
Available from: 2017-12-15 Created: 2017-12-15 Last updated: 2017-12-15

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