Assessing the effectiveness of a contextually enhanced reading comprehension program on mathematical word-problem solving

Assessing the effectiveness of a contextually enhanced reading comprehension program on mathematical word-problem solving

First Author: AISHWARYA NAIR -- McGill University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Adam Dubé
Keywords: mathematical and reading literacy, Mathematical word problems, Reading comprehension, content area reading, Grade 4-5
Abstract / Summary: 

Students’ reading ability is correlated with their achievements in mathematics. Math texts require reading involving decoding, comprehension, and numerical understanding to solve problems. Students who have weak reading comprehension strategies tend to exhibit poor problem solving in mathematics. Therefore, it is important to know whether a mathematically enhanced reading program can be leveraged to improve children’s mathematical performance. The study will test the effectiveness of a mathematically enhanced reading intervention as compared to a general reading intervention using a small-scale randomized control design. Students in Grades 4 and 5 (n= 40 per grade) will complete reading and problem-solving tasks to identify those with below average reading scores. They will then be assigned to one of two reading conditions (control general reading and experimental contextual reading; n= 25 per condition). The design will compare the difference in pre- and post-tests scores on primary (reading comprehension & problem solving) and secondary outcomes (reading accuracy and fluency). Pre-test scores were collected in Fall 2019 and the interventions will be conducted in Winter 2020 with results ready to be shared in Spring. The expected outcome is that a math-enhanced reading intervention will lead to greater gains in performance on mathematical word problems than a standard, best practices reading program. This may suggest that poor performance in math word problems is indicative of a contextual reading deficit rather than a general reading deficit.