Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Disorders & Special Education


Special Education

Committee Director

Silvana Watson

Committee Member

Peggy P. Hester

Committee Member

Sharon A. Raver-Lampman


For students with math difficulties (MD), math word problem solving is especially challenging. The purpose of this study was to examine a math word problem solving strategy, bar model drawing, to support students with MD. The study extended previous research that suggested that schematic-based instruction (SBI) training delivered within an explicit instruction framework can be effective in teaching various math skills related to word problem solving. As a more generic schema approach, bar model drawing may serve as an effective form of SBI that can be developed across word problems. Moreover, the bar model approach has the potential to enhance students' awareness of cognitive strategies through paraphrasing, visualizing, hypothesizing about problem solutions, and checking work, all of which are explicitly taught through the use of the bar-model drawing protocol.

A multiple-baseline design replicated across groups was used to evaluate the effects of the intervention of bar model drawing on student performance on math world problem solving. Student performance was investigated in terms of increased accurate use of cognitive strategies and overall accuracy of math word problem solving. Both of these dependent variables increased and remained stable throughout intervention, and remained high during the maintenance phase of the research. Pre and posttesting results were also favorable. Participants reported high social validity for the intervention. However, the results of the research also yielded some surprises and raised some questions. Conclusions drawn from the data include a discussion of the implications for action and recommendations for further research. Limitations of the study are also discussed.