Classroom Mathematical Learning Opportunities for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Oral Presentation
Friday, May 3, 2019: 1:42 PM
Room: 524 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
N. Sparapani1, N. S. Tseng2, T. S. Wood3, S. Karimi1, K. Singh2 and J. Rodriguez1, (1)School of Education, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, (2)Teacher Education, University of California, Davis, CA, (3)School of Education, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
Background: Academic achievement is critical for educational and lifelong success (NICHD, 2000). Rich educational experiences have been associated with positive educational outcomes (Hiebert & Grouws, 2007), mental and physical well-being (Adams, 2002), and opportunities for employment (Duncan et al., 2007). Very few studies have examined the educational opportunities that students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience during mathematical lessons and how their experiences relate to participation and learning.

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the nature and variability of mathematics instruction provided in preschool–3rd grade classrooms serving students with ASD. We utilized systematic observational methods in order to examine the amount and type of mathematics instruction that students receive as well as the degree of student participation and variability in teachers’ language.

Methods: Participants included (n = 60) preschool–3rd grade students with ASD and their teachers (n = 36) who were recruited for a longitudinal study evaluating the efficacy of a classroom-based intervention and video-recorded in their classrooms at the beginning of the school year. We identified types of mathematics tasks students were presented with within the lesson across four categories:1) tasks focusing on recall and rote memorization (e.g., identifying numbers and reciting multiplication facts), 2) procedural tasks that highlight the learning of standard algorithms (e.g., writing out steps of addition), 3) tasks that tap into conceptual knowledge and content building, and 4) tasks that require problem-solving/mathematical reasoning. Next, trained observers coded student participation (amount of time that students attended to and appropriately utilized manipulatives and materials) as well as teachers’ use of close-ended, open-ended, responsive, and directive language using Noldus Observer® Video-Pro Software. Interrater agreement between observers ranged between 80%–91%.

Results: Preliminary findings from 15 students and their teachers (n = 10) across 21 mathematics tasks indicated that students spent very little time engaged in mathematics instruction overall, with an average of 66% (SD = 18.70) of the lesson dedicated to mathematical content. A large percentage of the lesson focused on non-instructional activities, such as redirecting student behavior and attention or transitioning between materials. During mathematics tasks (M = 5:17 minutes, SD = 3:57), teachers most frequently provided opportunities for students to practice math facts (M = 57% of the tasks) and rehearse procedural steps of mathematical problems (M = 38%). Students spent very limited time on average (M = 00:09 seconds; SD = 00:06) interacting with relevant materials or looking at people. Finally, teachers used more directive language (e.g., “point to the number 5”; M = 43.00, SD = 38.60) and instructional comments (e.g., “this is the number 5”; M = 20.43, SD = 18.23) than all other language categories.

Conclusions: These data may have important implications for understanding the quality of instructional practices for students with ASD within mathematics lessons. Findings suggest that students with ASD may receive less than substantive learning opportunities in mathematics, which may have important educational consequences, and highlight salient instructional talk that might lead to improved participation in learning opportunities and deeper mathematical understandings.

See more of: Education
See more of: Education