Improving Mathematics Learning of Kindergarten Students Through Computer-Assisted Instruction

  • Improving Mathematics Learning of Kindergarten Students Through Computer-Assisted Instruction

    Matthew E. Foster and Jason L. Anthony, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; Doug H. Clements and Julie Sarama, University of Denver; Jeffrey M. Williams, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
    This study evaluated the effects of a mathematics software program, the Building Blocks software suite, on young children’s mathematics performance. Participants included 247 Kindergartners from 37 classrooms in 9 schools located in low-income communities. Children within classrooms were randomly assigned to receive 21 weeks of computer-assisted instruction (CAI) in mathematics with Building Blocks or in literacy with Earobics Step 1. Children in the Building Blocks condition evidenced higher posttest scores on tests of numeracy and Applied Problems after controlling for beginning-of-year numeracy scores and classroom nesting. These findings, together with a review of earlier CAI, provide guidance for future work on CAI aiming to improve mathematics performance of children from low-income backgrounds.
    All citizens need a broad understanding of mathematics to function in today’s society, but mathematics proficiency rates in the United States are low (Ginsburg, Leinwand, Anstrom, & Pollock, 2005; Kilpatrick, Swafford, & Findell, 2001). International comparisons indicate that children in the United States perform worse in mathematics, and their lagging mathematics development is evident as early as preschool (Cross, Woods, & Schweingruber, 2009; Sarama & Clements, 2009; Starkey, Klein, & Wakeley, 2004). Importantly, children who live in poverty and who are members of linguistic and ethnic minority groups demonstrate significantly lower levels of mathematics achievement than their majority, middle-class peers (Clements & Sarama, 2011; Denton & West, 2002; National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP], 2013). Moreover, the achievement gap is wider in the United States than in any other country in the world (Akiba, LeTendre, & Scribner, 2007). Given that early mathematics knowledge is a stronger predictor of later mathematics achievement than even intelligence or memory abilities (Krajewski, 2005) and that children who begin with the lowest achievement levels show the lowest mathematics growth from Kindergarten to the third grade (Bodovski & Farkas, 2007), such achievement gaps in mathematics are pernicious (Claessens, Duncan, & Engel, 2009; Clements & Sarama, 2011; Horn, 2005; National Mathematics Advisory Panel [NMAP], 2008).