Accelerating Mathematics Word Problem-Solving Performance and Efficacy with Think-Aloud Strategies

Piia M. Björn, Aino Äikäs, Airi Hakkarainen, Minna Kyttälä, Lynn S. Fuchs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Background: The previous body of research literature has reported several separate cognitive processes relevant in solving mathematics wps. Therefore, it is of the essence to seek for effective intervention and instruction for students in need for support in learning.

Aim: This article reports the outcome of an intervention targeted at mathematics word problem (wp) skills.

Setting: This study included three data collection points: (1) Premeasurements, (2) post-measurements and (3) follow-up measurements. Pre-measurements were performed in August, post-measurements immediately after the intervention period in October and follow-up measurements in December.

Methods: A programme, which included face-to-face support in mathematics wp strategies with the think-aloud protocol, was applied. The participants were 28 Finnish third-graders (14 training group students and 14 control students). Their mathematics wp skills were tested three times (pre-, post- and follow-up assessments). The groups were matched by gender, family type and the mathematics wp pre-measurement score level. The groups differed neither by literacy skills (i.e. technical reading, reading comprehension) nor by task orientation at baseline.

Results: Some acceleration of mathematics wp skills among the training group students was found but the growth dramatically declined as soon as the face-to-face support stopped. The results further showed improvement in the efficacy of correct answers or attempted mathematics wp items among training group students.

Conclusion: The results suggested that training consisting of face-to-face support is crucial for accelerating mathematics wp strategies among students struggling with mathematics. Repeated, cyclic periods of support are suggested for sustained effect.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbera716
JournalSouth African Journal of Childhood Education
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences

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