The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Special Education: M.S.


Special Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Jerry Wellik

Second Advisor

Bradley Kaffar

Third Advisor

Martin Lo

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Word Problems; Math Strategies; Lesson Sequence; Disabilities


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a combined strategy instruction approach on strengthening problem solving competence of students with math difficulties (MD). Seven students received 14 lessons of explicit instruction embedded with cognitive strategies and paired with a graduated lesson sequence. Four different types of word problem situations involving either addition or subtraction with regrouping were the focus of this study. The independent variable consisted of math instruction in a multiple-baseline design with two replications. Ongoing probes as well as pre- and posttests were administered to evaluate treatment outcomes. Both word problem solving and computation skills were analyzed. All participants improved word problem solving from baseline to intervention yielding a range across participants in mean percentage point increase from baseline to intervention of 15.9 to 82.2. On pretest to posttest for this skill, the percentage point increase ranged from 10 to 74 with a mean increase of 41.4. Most students showed improvement from pretest to posttest for untimed computation skills ability with results ranging from a ten percentage point decline to a 55 percentage point increase and a mean of a 20.7 increase. Additionally, all students improved in addition and subtraction with regrouping computation fluency from pretest to posttest revealing a range in percent increase of correct digits per minute from 15% to 750% with a mean increase of 121.8%. All students disclosed high satisfaction with the intervention and with the level of learning incurred.


The journey leading me to this place simply would not have been possible without my most amazing and loving family. Brian, my husband and partner in life, endured many of my stories along the way, as well as too many times left alone while I had class, work, and cramming and writing sessions. Thank you for your patience. My children, David, Alex, and Marie are, bar none, the most incredible persons to have on my side and for whom I call myself “Mom.” They have supported me and participated with me both in and out of the classroom leaving me proud and grateful all balled up into one blessed person.

My mother, Lucille Marie, has always been my role model and mentor in my Life and Spirit. I am so very grateful you are my mom and my cheerleader. We continue to discover ways our lives parallel, and that alone gives my life deeper meaning. My father, Robert Sr., I am sure, is looking down from his special spot in heaven with his favorite cigar and smiling. Your love of learning, Dad, was not wasted on me. Neither was your integrity, and caring, loving heart. Thank you for showing me that. My siblings should just have an inkling of the impact their love has had on my life. Especially Don—oh, the many passions we share! And without whose influence in my life I most assuredly would not be writing this thesis. My

brother Jeff has always shown me acceptance in a way this youngest child craved. Your gentle heart is a gift to us all.

And finally, I thank my other, newer family from St. Cloud State University. The diverse and caring faculty within the Special Education Department simply cannot be equaled. All have increased my knowledge, pushed my thinking and touched my heart. Special thank you to Professor Bradley Kaffar for making this research available to me and for his guidance. Also to Professor Jerry Wellik I thank with my head, my heart, my Spirit. Your teaching transcends academia, Jerry. I am so grateful and thank you for your guidance and friendship as I progressed on this journey.

I love each and every one of you for allowing me to share with you along the way.



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