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Theses Doctoral

A Functional Writing Package and Middle School Special Education Students’ Math Algorithms

Crosbie, Caroline

In 2 experiments, I tested the effects of a writing/editing package for middle school students with disabilities who performed below grade level in math and reading. The participants were grouped into dyads based on math grade level, and each dyad consisted of an editor and writer. There were 8 participants in Experiment 1. The design was a multiple probe across 4 dyads design. The dependent variables were : 1) algorithm components including functional and rationale descriptions; 2) functional accuracy of a written math algorithm; 3) structural components of written responses including grammar, spelling, and punctuation; 4) social validity measure to determine whether the was a significant difference in the means of scores assigned by naïve readers for pre- and post-intervention samples; 5) resistance to extinction measures for solving above grade level algebra problems as a measure of reinforcement value. During the pre-intervention assessments, each participant was given a word problem which corresponded to their math performance level. Participants solved the word problem, then wrote an explanation so a naïve adult reader could complete the steps of the problem to produce the solution without seeing the problem. Participants also wrote responses explaining the rationale for the operations used in the word problem and the practical application for the word problem. Participants were then given untaught algebra equations to measure resistance to extinction. In Experiment 1, the independent variable was an editing and writing package for producing a written explanation for specific steps to solve a multi-step math problem. The participant as the writer produced a written math algorithm, and the participant as the editor provided questions to the writer so that a rewrite would help the editor solve the math problem correctly. Structural elements were not consequated, and rationale components were not directly taught. Criterion for the independent variable was achieved when the writer produced a written explanation with all four necessary functional components and required no additional rewrites. The results demonstrated a functional relationship for functional accuracy and functional components. A functional relationship was not shown for the rationale. In Experiment 2, the dependent variables remained the same. The independent variable was changed so that the experimenter only edited the first round of the writer’s responses for structural elements, and the writer corrected for structural elements. The editor also had to write a word problem based off the writer’s written algorithm. Results for Experiment 2 show a functional relation for functional accuracy, functional components, and rationale components.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Behavior Analysis
Thesis Advisors
Greer, R. Douglas
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 13, 2018