THE EFFECT OF MENTAL COMPUTATION INSTRUCTION
ON THIRD GRADE
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the Degree of doctor of Education in
Teachers College, Columbia University
Luz M. Rivera Vega
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of mental computation instruction on third grade students.
The study took place in an elementary school in Ponce, Puerto Rico, during the Fall of 1995. Four groups (two high and two low achiever groups) participated in the study and selected from eight groups using an achievement examination. The treatment (t1 and t2) and control groups (c1 and c2) each had a high (t2 and c2) and a low (t1 and c1) achiever group. Two teachers participated in the study, one of which had three groups (two treatment and one control group) and other taught one control group.
The students in the treatment groups participated in 15 to 20 minute activities for 3 to 4 times a week during 6 weeks after which they received regular instruction. The activities were not used to teach mental computation, but students were motivated to share their strategies, evaluate their own work and write about their thinking. Various visual models were used. Questionnaires and interviews monitored changes in the teachers' beliefs.
Using an (ANOVA) test between group types on pre and post mental examination a
significant difference (p<.05) between the low achiever groups on the post
test was found. The frequency and percentage of strategies used on a post
treatment clinical interview with the students showed that nonstandard
strategies were used most by the low achiever treatment group. On the average
the treatment groups used left to right computation twice as often as control
groups (13% to 6%). The high achiever
treatment group used nonstandard
strategies with reformulation twice as
often as the high achiever control group. Both questionnaire and interview data
indicated that participation did affect teachers' beliefs.
The findings of this study suggest that the instructional materials helped the
low achievers to increase mental computation skills and was effective in
promoting the development of number sense in both high and low achiever groups
but especially among low achievers.
© Copyright Luz M. Rivera 1996
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