Thinking Skills Versus Learning Time: Effects of Alternative Classroom-Based Interventions on Students’ Mathematics Problem Solving

Susan R. Swing, Karen C. Stoiber, Penelope L. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined the effects that teaching fourth-grade teachers (N = 29) to use one of two classroom-based interventions had on students’ mathematics achievement. in the thinking skills intervention, teachers received instruction in how to teach their students the cognitive strategies of defining and describing, thinking of reasons, comparing, and summarizing. in the learning time intervention, teachers received instruction in how to increase students’ engagement and academic learning time. All students completed a vocabulary test and mathematics achievement pretests in December and the same mathematics tests again in May. Observers coded teachers’ instructional behavior and students’ engagement before and after the intervention. Twelve students from each class were interviewed in May to obtain verbal protocols of students’ use of the thinking skills. Results showed significant ability x treatment interaction effects on mathematics problem solving and on higher level achievement at both the class level (between-class) and the individual student level (within-class). Lower ability classes did better in the learning time intervention than in the thinking skills intervention, whereas higher ability classes did better in the thinking skills intervention than in the learning time intervention. Observations and transcripts of classroom interactions showed that thinking skills teachers of lower ability classes were less effective in implementing thinking skills than were teachers of higher ability classes. Within class, the lower ability students benefited more from the thinking skills intervention than from the learning time intervention, perhaps because the interventions gave these students cognitive strategies that they did not already have; once provided with these strategies, however, these students were then able to use them in mathematics problem solving. Quantitative and descriptive analyses of students’ verbal protocols supported this conclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-191
Number of pages69
JournalCognition and Instruction
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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