ASL - Maths problems mastered

19th November 2010 at 00:00

Children with learning difficulties can benefit from being encouraged to find their own way to solve arithmetic problems, according to new research from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

A study by Lio Moscardini, a specialist in additional support needs in Strathclyde's faculty of humanities and social sciences, found children dealt better with arithmetical problems if they used intuitive strategies involving number blocks, drawings or breaking an equation up into smaller, simpler parts, rather than being instructed in arithmetical facts and procedures.

Nearly all teachers taking part felt pupils benefited and several said they had underestimated pupils' ability and potential.

The children's solutions, which they had not been taught in advance, included:

- answering a question about how many children are on a bus, after a group gets on, by representing two sets of children with cubes, drawings or fingers and joining the sets together;

- splitting up the sum 48 + 25 by adding 40 to 20, then adding eight and five separately for the total of 73.

The children were found to follow the same path in understanding adding, subtraction, multiplication and division as those who did not have the same difficulties.

The research paper, `I Like It Instead of Maths' has been published in the `British Journal of Special Education': Volume 37; Issue 3, pages 130-138 (DOI: 10.1111j.1467-8578.2010.00461.x).

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now