Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

David E. Houchins

Second Advisor

Kris Varjas

Third Advisor

Debra McKeown

Fourth Advisor

Judith Emerson

Fifth Advisor

Peng Peng


Students with emotional behavioral disorders (EBD) who have been removed from their regular schools into alternative educational settings (AES) have academic deficits that affect their success in school (Lehr, Tan, & Ysseldyke, 2009); however, few researchers have investigated what strategies work best for this population, especially in the area of math (Schwab, Johnson, Ansley, Houchins, & Varjas, 2016). Two important areas that students with EBD must master to graduate high school are fractions and algebra (Templeton, Neel, & Blood, 2008). Since the research on math interventions for students with EBD in these areas is limited, researchers have suggested examining the math literature for students with learning disabilities (LD) to find potential intervention components. The purpose of the first study was to synthesize the randomized control trials and quasi-experimental intervention research on instructional approaches that enhance the math achievement of students in grades 6-12 with LD. This study used meta-analytic techniques to synthesize the math literature for secondary students with LD. Findings indicated that strategy instruction had a higher effect size (Hedges g= .72) than alternate delivery systems (Hedges g= .23), and the number of Common Core State Standard math practices was a moderator for the effect size of math interventions. Since strategy instruction had a higher effect size, the purpose of the second study was to test the effects of a graphic organizer on the math performance for middle school students with EBD in an AES. This study used a one-group nonequivalent dependent variables design (Shadish, Cook, & Campbell, 2002) with multiple measures in multiple waves to assess the effects of the graphic organizer on the math skills of the students. A repeated measures ANOVA indicated that students significantly improved their math performance on both fractions and algebra using researcher developed measures. Fidelity data indicated that two teachers had low adherence, quality of instruction scores and had low percentages of student engagement. Social validity results indicated that teacher and students found the intervention to be an acceptable intervention.