Inquiry-Based Instruction in Mathematics for Students with Learning Disabilities: A Review of the Literature


  • Jennifer Krawec University of Miami
  • Marissa Steinberg



Inquiry-based instruction, learning disabilities, mathematics, secondary education


Opportunities for students to learn mathematics through innovative, authentic experiences in an inquiry-based instructional approach have become much more common for students in regular and advanced math classes. Yet, the same cannot be said for students with learning disabilities. One of the primary reasons is that key tenets of the inquiry approach sit in opposition to the research-validated instructional approaches of direct/explicit instruction, which have been the mainstay of special education pedagogy across the academic domains. However, national trends continue to show significant gaps in the math proficiency of students with disabilities as compared to their peers without disabilities. This persistent discrepancy in achievement underscores the need for research to consider the potential of the inquiry approach for students with learning disabilities. As such, the authors reviewed the relevant literature from 2000 to 2019 to identify the characteristics and effectiveness of inquiry-based math interventions implemented with students with learning disabilities and found that only five studies have empirically tested the effectiveness of inquiry with this population. The implications of this lack of research are discussed. 

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