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J Educ Psychol. 2008;100(3):491-509.

Effects of Small-Group Tutoring with and without Validated Classroom Instruction on At-Risk Students' Math Problem Solving: Are Two Tiers of Prevention Better Than One?

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Vanderbilt University.


The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of small-group tutoring with and without validated classroom instruction on at-risk (AR) students' math problem solving. Stratifying within schools, 119 3(rd)-grade classes were randomly assigned to conventional or validated problem-solving instruction (Hot Math [schema-broadening instruction]). Students identified as AR (n = 243) were randomly assigned, within classroom conditions, to receive Hot Math tutoring or not. Students were tested on problem-solving and math applications measures before and after 16 weeks of intervention. Analyses of variance, which accounted for the nested structure of the data, revealed the tutored students who received validated classroom instruction achieved better than tutored students who received conventional classroom instruction (ES = 1.34). However, the advantage for tutoring over no tutoring was similar whether or not students received validated or conventional classroom instruction (ESs = 1.18 and 1.13). Tutoring, not validated classroom instruction reduced the prevalence of math difficulty. Implications for responsiveness-to-intervention prevention models and for enhancing math problem-solving instruction are discussed.

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