Mathematical power of special-needs pupils: An ICT-based dynamic assessment format to reveal weak pupils' learning potential

This paper reports a study aimed at revealing special-educational-needs pupils' learning potential by means of an ICT-based assessment including a dynamic visual tool that might help pupils when solving mathematics problems. The study focused on subtraction problems up to 100, which require "borrowing". These problems, in which the value of the ones-digit of the subtrahend is larger than the ones-digit of the minuend, are known as a serious difficulty for weak pupils in math. Seven of such problems from a standardised test were placed in the ICT environment. Data were collected from two test conditions: the standardised written test format and the ICT version of the test items including the tool that provided pupils with a set of virtual manipulatives. The 37 pupils involved in the study were 8-12 years old and from two special-education schools in the Netherlands. Comparison of the performance scores in the two formats showed that an ICT-based assessment format, including a dynamic visual tool, can reveal weak pupils' learning potential and strategy use. The study also pointed out that "partial-tool use", i.e., not carrying out the complete subtraction operation with the tool, can provide sufficient support to find the correct answer.

Peltenburg, M., van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M., & Doig, B.
British Journal of Educational Technology, Vol. 40(2), 273-284.
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Content Area: 
IDEA Disability Category: 
emotional disturbance
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specific learning disability
speech or language impairment
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opportunities to learn concepts
practice and reinforcement activities