Contribution of Nonsymbolic Representation Beyond Symbolic Equal Sign Instruction in Second-Grade Classrooms
Chow, Jason C.
Children who exhibit language deficits and behavior problems often underachieve. However, interventions that target children with behavior problems primarily focus on changing behavior, and interventions that aim to improve achievement outcomes for school-age children with language deficits are scarce. The purposes of this dissertation were to (1) improve equal-sign understanding and problem solving in second-grade classrooms via class-wide symbolic equal-sign instruction, (2) contrast symbolic and nonsymbolic representation, and (3) test for interactions between treatment and individual differences in language, behavior, and attention. Second-grade students (n = 195) in 21 classrooms were randomly assigned to symbolic intervention, nonsymbolic intervention, or business-as-usual control. Both intervention conditions significantly outperformed control on all outcome measures, but there were no differences between conditions. Language moderated the symbolic intervention condition, but not the nonsymbolic condition. This suggests that language skill predicts response to symbolic, numerical instruction, while nonsymbolic instruction may compensate for language deficits. Neither problem behavior nor inattention moderated treatment effects.