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Developing and Evaluating a Technology-Based Fractions InterventionProgram for Low-Achieving and At-Risk Students


The primary goal of this project is to develop and evaluate a technology-based fractions intervention program that will enable at-risk and low-achieving students to master basic fraction concepts in the elementary grades. Despite the importance of fractions and other rational numbers to the learning of algebra, a large number of students, especially those who are low-achievers, fail to master basic fraction concepts in the elementary grades. HALF (Helping At-Risk and Low-Achieving students in Fractions) is designed to remediate this important problem.

While the mathematics content covered in HALF will be limited to basic fraction concepts, the instructional model we are designing for HALF is applicable to other domains of mathematics. The instructional model is a hybrid model that capitalizes on the power of truly integrated teacher-led and computer-based instruction. It builds upon and extends several strands of previous research conducted by members of our research team and other leading scholars in the field. As discussed in the previous section of this proposal, the instructional model used in HALF is significantly different than the instructional model used in other computer- based mathematics curricula. With the appropriate modifications, the HALF instructional model could eventually be applied to most if not all of the other content domains included in NCTM's (2006) Curriculum Focal Points and NMAP's (2008) "Benchmarks for the Critical Foundations of Algebra". In future projects, our research team intends to apply the HALF instructional model to these other content domains in an effort to create a comprehensive intervention program that enables students to achieve proficiency in all the skills that are critical for success in algebra.

Another goal of this project is to lay the groundwork to be able to conduct an efficacy evaluation of HALF (i.e. a Goal 3 study). As such, we intend to collect evidence of the promise of HALF to impact students' understanding of basic fraction concepts by conducting a pilot study. We also intend to develop measures that allow us to assess the feasibility of implementing HALF with fidelity in a variety of educational settings. In the next sections, we describe the development plan for HALF and the research methods we intend to use to determine if the various components of the HALF instructional model are operating as intended. We also describe our plans for acquiring evidence about the feasibility, usability, and usefulness of HALF.