Special education students often lack the necessary mathematical skills needed to be independently successful in the secondary classroom. These students face challenges in applying the basic math skills needed as well as retaining basic math skills from grade level to grade level. Lack of understanding, in addition to causing classroom difficulties, can cause other personal and social dilemmas for the special education students. Lack of motivation, anger, lack of self value, and other disruptive behaviors may occur as a result of the difficulties the special education students have in the classroom. In order to help these students to overcome poor problem solving skills, effective strategy based instruction is needed. Teachers look to research for effective strategies to successfully instruct these students (Maccini & Strickland, 2010).
Finding meaningful problem-solving strategies that can motivate and extend special education students’ knowledge is often an issue for secondary educators. Special educators look for ways to change instructional practices for students with specific learning disabilities in the area of math. Special educators advocate for changes in instructional practices for students with learning disabilities in math that reflect a more balanced approach to instruction (Bottge, Kwon, LaRoque, Rueda, & Serlin, 2007). Research has shown that strategies can improve student performance in the area of math (Maccini & Strickland, 2010).
In 2000, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) proclaimed that schools should help students become confident in their ability to tackle difficult
MATH STRATEGIES FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS
problems, eager to figure things out on their own, flexible in exploring mathematical ideas, try alternative paths, and be willing to persevere, (NCTM, 2000; Bottge et al. 2007). The NCTM agreed that reform was needed areas such as basic skills instruction and instruction in problem solving (Bottge et al. 2007).
Bottge, Kwon, LaRoque, Rueda, & Serlin (2007) looked at the use of Enhanced Anchored Instruction (EAI) to help boost problem solving skills of students with disabilities in the area of math. EAI immerses students directly in problems that are delivered in a combination of multimedia and hands-on contexts (Bottge et al. 2007). EAI contains three main parts, probing questions by the teachers to guide student understanding, students working together in small groups to discuss and find solutions to problems, and explicit instruction on skills and concepts by the teachers as the students need them. During this particular study of EAI on math instruction, 100 students were divided into groups. One group received math instruction using EAI methods while the other group received instruction using the teachers’ typical methods. A pre-test was administered to both groups to gain a baseline of math experience and knowledge. The math instruction using...