# Using Schema Instruction to Support Word-problem Solving for Students with Math Difficulty

## Location

Session 1: Room 106

## Start Date

24-2-2023 10:00 AM

## End Date

24-2-2023 10:50 AM

## First Presenter's Brief Biography

Megan Mowbray is a fourth-year doctoral student in Special Education at Georgia State University. She completed the postgraduate Applied Behavior Analysis program in 2018, and she is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with over ten years of teaching experience. She is an instructor for the Dyslexia Endorsement courses for Special Education teachers at GSU. Megan is interested in researching effective ways to support teachers with implementing evidence-based practices for students with learning difficulties and learning disabilities in the areas of reading and mathematics. She recently served as the Project Coordinator for a randomized controlled trial examining the effects of adding explicit mathematics vocabulary instruction to word-problem schema instruction for elementary students with mathematics difficulty. She is currently investigating professional development and ongoing coaching to support teachers’ mathematics vocabulary instruction for students with learning difficulties.

## Presentation Type

Concurrent Session

## Abstract

Do your elementary students have difficulty solving word problems? Learn how to teach students to (1) use an attack strategy (e.g., read the problem, cross out irrelevant information, name the problem type), (2) identify the word-problem schema (difference, total, or change), and (3) solve the problem successfully.

## Conference Strands

Content Area Math

## Description

Mathematics is an important foundational skill for students’ long-term success (Hein et al., 2013). Word-problem solving is a large part of current state and national standards (e.g., Common Core State Standards of Mathematics). Many students struggle with word-problem solving, especially students identified with a disability in mathematics or persistent low performance in mathematics (MD). Word-problem solving is difficult because students must: 1) read and comprehend the text, 2) recognize and differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information, 3) identify the missing information to solve for, 4) choose and apply an appropriate strategy to solve the problem, and 5) perform computation to solve the problem correctly (Stevens & Powell, 2016). Teaching word-problem solving by tying key words to specific operations (e.g., less means subtract) is ineffective (Powell et al., 2022). However, schema instruction is an evidence-based practice associated with improved word-problem solving for students with MD (e.g., Fuchs et al., 2014). Schema instruction teaches students how to categorize word problems into types (e.g., putting two or more parts together for a total, comparing the greater amount and the lesser amount to find the difference, and identifying the starting amount and if there is a change increase or a change decrease to find the end amount; Stevens & Powell, 2016). Once students identify the correct schema, they apply the associated strategies to correctly solve the problem. In this presentation, we explain each word-problem type, show examples of how to solve the problems using the RUN attack strategy (e.g., read the problem, underline the label and cross out irrelevant information, and name the problem type), and provide practice opportunities for attendees. We also provide resources for educators to implement schema instruction with their students. Fuchs, L. S., Powell, S. R., Cirino, P. T., Schumacher, R. F., Marrin, S., Hamlett, C. L., Fuchs, D., Compton, D. L., & Changas, P. C. (2014). Does calculation or word-problem instruction provide a stronger route to prealgebraic knowledge? Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(4), 990–1006. https://doi .org/10.1037/a0036793 Hein, V., Smerdon, B., & Sambolt, M. (2013). Predictors of postsecondary success. American Institutes for Research. Powell, S. R., Namkung, J. M., & Lin, X. (2022). An investigation of using keywords to solve word problems. The Elementary School Journal, 122(3), 452-473. Stevens, E. A., & Powell, S. R. (2016) Focus on inclusive education: Unpacking word problems for elementary students: A guide to instruction using schemas. Childhood Education, 92(1), 86-91. https://doi.org/10.1080/00094056.2016.1134253

## Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Using Schema Instruction to Support Word-problem Solving for Students with Math Difficulty

Session 1: Room 106

Do your elementary students have difficulty solving word problems? Learn how to teach students to (1) use an attack strategy (e.g., read the problem, cross out irrelevant information, name the problem type), (2) identify the word-problem schema (difference, total, or change), and (3) solve the problem successfully.