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WWC Review of the Report "Benefits of Practicing 4 = 2 + 2: Nontraditional Problem Formats Facilitate Children's Understanding of Mathematical Equivalence." What Works Clearinghouse Single Study Review
REPORT

Abstract

The 2011 study, "Benefits of Practicing 4 = 2 + 2: Nontraditional Problem Formats Facilitate Children's Understanding of Mathematical Equivalence," examined the effects of addition practice using nontraditional problem formats on students' understanding of mathematical equivalence. In nontraditional problem formats, operations appear on the right side of the equal sign (e.g., = 4 + 3) rather than the traditional method of placing the operations on the left side of the equal sign (e.g. 4 + 3 = __). The study included 95 7- and 8-year-old students who were randomly assigned to one of three groups: nontraditional practice, traditional practice, and no extra practice. Researchers assessed participating students on four measures of mathematical equivalence understanding: equation solving, equation encoding, defining the equal sign, and a 2-week follow-up measure of equation solving with feedback. The findings indicate that using nontraditional addition problem formats had a statistically significant positive impact on three out of four measures of students' understanding of mathematical equivalence, relative to using traditional addition problem formats. Specifically, there were significant positive impacts shown for the measures of equation solving, defining the equal sign, and equation solving with feedback. The comparison of the nontraditional practice group to the traditional practice group is a well-executed randomized controlled trial with low levels of sample attrition that meets the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) group design standards without reservations. However, the comparison of the nontraditional practice group to the no-extra-practice group had high differential attrition and baseline equivalence was not established for the two groups. Therefore, this part of the analysis does not meet WWC group design standards. The following are appended: (1) Study details; (2) Outcome measures for each domain; (3) Study findings for the mathematics equivalence understanding domain; and (4) Supplemental findings by domain. A glossary of terms is included. [The following study is the focus of this review: McNeil, N. M., Fyfe, E. R., Petersen, L. A., Dunwiddie, A. E., & Brletic-Shipley, H. (2011). "Benefits of practicing 4 = 2 + 2: Nontraditional problem formats facilitate children's understanding of mathematical equivalence." "Child Development," 82(5), 1620-1633 (EJ938672).]

Citation

. WWC Review of the Report "Benefits of Practicing 4 = 2 + 2: Nontraditional Problem Formats Facilitate Children's Understanding of Mathematical Equivalence." What Works Clearinghouse Single Study Review. Retrieved April 24, 2019 from .

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