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The road to mathematics in elementary school: Social and cognitive influences on performance and response to intervention

Rena L Walles, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Proficiency in mathematics is necessary for both in-class achievement and future career success. Researchers have pinpointed several variables which contribute to success in mathematics, including cognitive factors, such as mathematics fluency and strategy use, and social factors, including academic self-concept. These factors have also been linked to gender differences in mathematics performance, a topic that has garnered intense interest from both academic and non-academic audiences. The present study was designed to assess the relationship between social and cognitive variables and mathematics achievement before and after a computer-based mathematics intervention, and also to determine the most effective way to improve competence in mathematics in early elementary school children. Second grade students completed a battery of tasks designed to assess their actual mathematics competence and their perceptions of competence prior to the onset of an intensive intervention. Students were randomly assigned to one of four intervention conditions: three experimental mathematics conditions and one control reading condition. At the conclusion of the intervention, students completed alternate versions of the pre-test tasks. Gender differences were found on many pre-test variables and these differences were in line with common gender stereotypes. The intervention, however, did not have a significant impact on the existence of gender differences. Students in all three of the mathematics intervention conditions showed gains in certain tasks, though students in the combined fluency and strategy groups appear to have benefited the most from the intervention.

Subject Area

Mathematics education|Elementary education|Educational psychology|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Walles, Rena L, "The road to mathematics in elementary school: Social and cognitive influences on performance and response to intervention" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3315496.