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Effects of a Word-Problem Intervention on Word-Problem Language Features for Third-Grade Students with Mathematics Difficulty

Sarah R. Powell, Elizabeth A. Stevens, Katherine A. Berry


Word problems require students to read a language-based problem, identify necessary information to answer a prompt, and perform calculation(s) to develop a problem solution. Solving word problems proves particularly challenging for students with mathematics difficulties because skill in reading, interpretation of language, and mathematics are required for word-problem proficiency. We examined whether two versions of a word-problem intervention increased students’ understanding of three word-problem language features: naming a superordinate category, identifying irrelevant information, and providing a word-problem label. At pre- and posttest, 145 3rd-grade students solved word problems and answered questions about word-problem language. Students who participated in the word-problem interventions demonstrated improvement on identifying irrelevant information and providing word-problem labels over students in the business-as-usual condition. We did not identify group differences related to naming a superordinate category. These results suggest the importance of explicit teaching of language comprehension features within word-problem intervention.

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language; learning difficulties; mathematics; word problems

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