IMPROVING THE PROBLEM SOLVING PERFORMANCE OF STRUGGLING LEARNERS IN MATHEMATICS
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This study investigated the effectiveness of an intervention approach called Cognitive Strategy Instruction (CSI) that was supported with the use of graphic organizers (GOs). The intention of the research was to determine if CSI with the use of GOs could help improve the word problem solving performance of Grade 8 students experiencing difficulties in mathematics. The CSI approach incorporated instructional elements and guidelines from a Cognitive Strategy program called Solve it! (Montague, 2003). This study was conducted over 18-weeks. Three, female students participated in a 13-week group instruction. Field observations were collected during instruction to examine students’ mannerisms, such as their positive and negative responses, as well as their understanding of the material. Data were also collected from pre- and post- measures to examine students’: (a) feelings toward math problem solving; (b) knowledge, use, and control of the seven cognitive strategies and processes; and (c) performance in solving math word problems. The students participated in pre- and post- individual interviews (based on the modified MPSA-SF; Montague, 1996), as well as a pre- and post-math word problem solving quiz (based on Grade 6 EQAO assessments). The results indicated that students’ participation on CSI training with the support of GOs may provide potential benefits to students who struggle in math. Two of the three students improved their performance in solving one-step math word problems on the post-intervention quiz. There was also a general improvement in students’ feelings toward math problem solving and an overall improvement in their knowledge and application of the problem solving strategies. In addition, the field observations provided insight about students’ positive and negative responses during instruction, such as their engagement and motivation. This study provides educators with an instructional program to help struggling students succeed in Ontario’s math classrooms. Future research is recommended to gain further insights about the perceived benefits of CSI training with the support of GOs.