Date of Award

Spring 1-10-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Dr. Peggy A. Gallagher

Second Advisor

Dr. Lynn Hart

Third Advisor

Dr. Gary Bingham

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Heller

Abstract

Math skills are critical for future success in school (Eccles, 1997), as school-entry math knowledge is the strongest predictor of later academic achievement (Claessens, Duncan, & Engel, 2009). Researchers have found that teachers of young children spend less time teaching mathematics than other subject areas (Phillips & Meloy, 2012), and there is a lack of formal early mathematics instruction for young children’s understanding of early numeracy (Chard et al., 2008). However, preschoolers are developmentally ready for mathematics and are more able to learn math concepts than previously believed (Balfanz, Ginsburg, & Greenes, 2003). While there is a recent increase of literature on math with young children, there is a scarcity of research related to young children with disabilities in the field of mathematics, particularly utilizing evidence based interventions. The current study investigates one intervention integrating mathematics within children’s literature for preschoolers with disabilities.

This study was a quasi-experimental group design, with one treatment group and one comparison group (N = 50 participants). Targeted early numeracy skills included: (1) one-to-one correspondence, (2) quantity comparison, and (3) numeral identification. The 20-minute intervention was conducted three days per week for six weeks; the comparison group received a typical small group storybook reading of the same literature book with no elaborations. The Test of Early Mathematics Ability, Third Edition (TEMA-3; Ginsburg & Baroody, 2003) was used as a pre and post standardized assessment, and analyzed using one-way ANCOVAs controlling for pretest scores. The Preschool Numeracy Indicators (PNI; Floyd, Hojnoski, & Key, 2006) was used as a weekly curriculum based measurement and analyzed by one-way ANCOVAS and by individual and group means for descriptive data. After the intervention, the children in the treatment group scored significantly higher in the areas of total math ability, quantity comparison, and one-to-one counting fluency than the comparison group. Implications include possibilities for further integrating mathematics within literature for preschoolers with disabilities, the benefits of intentional storybook selection for this type of intervention, and the recognition of the importance of introducing mathematical topics to preschoolers with disabilities in order of developmental cognitive readiness.

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