PROCEDURAL VERSUS CONCEPTUAL ALGEBRA REFRESHER INTERVENTIONS AND EFFECTS OF COGNITIVE ABILITIES IN ADULTS
Elias, John T.
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The success rate of high school and college students in algebra is low (Tyson et al., 2007; Croft, 2006). As such, the present study compared the effectiveness of conceptual and procedural algebra “refresher” interventions for 63 college students and investigated the relationship of cognitive variables to math outcome. Results revealed that participants in both interventions improved significantly from pretest to posttest, but that there was no significant difference between the two interventions. However, a follow-up analysis in which participants who scored at ceiling or at floor on pretest were excluded revealed an advantage for the conceptual treatment group relative to the procedural group in terms of educationally meaningful effect size (d = +0.53). There were no relationships between cognitive variables and math outcomes; however, in the follow-up analysis, long-term memory was positively correlated with posttest performance, but working memory and executive functioning were still unrelated to math outcomes. There was no interaction between cognitive variables and posttest performance of the two groups, which likely reflects the lack of differential treatment effects or robust zero-order correlations. The present study addresses the shortage of research on algebra, particularly the shortage of experiments that compare the effectiveness of different algebraic interventions. It also provides insight into intervention methods that educators may potentially use.