Using computer assisted instruction to build fluency in multiplication : implications for the relationship between different core competencies in mathematics.
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Dyscalculia is a specific learning disability that affects an individual’s core skills in mathematics, including calculation, recall of number facts, and approximating/comparing number. Research into the origins and aetiology of dyscalculia have suggested the presence of two different networks in the brain used for mathematics; one for verbal (symbolic) tasks such as recalling number facts, and one for non-verbal (non-symbolic) tasks such as approximation and number comparison. While these networks are located in different brain areas, they are often used together on calculation tasks, they are known to impact each other over the course of development, and they both appear to be impacted in dyscalculia. The current study used entertaining computer assisted instruction software, “Timez Attack”, to target the symbolic network, i.e. to improve the fluency of multiplication fact recall in three 9 and 10 year old children who were performing below the expected level on multiplication. An ABA (applied behaviour analysis) multiple-baseline across subject design was used to track participants’ performance on multiplication, addition, and number comparison over the course of the intervention. Results showed improved fluency of multiplication fact recall in all three participants; however this improvement did not generalise to addition or number comparison. This finding suggests that the symbolic and non-symbolic brain networks involved in mathematics are largely independent from each other by middle childhood, and that training targeting one network does not affect the other.