Math practice and its influence on math skills and executive functions in adolescents with mild to borderline intellectual disability

B.R.J. Jansen, E. Lange, M.J. van der Molen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Adolescents with mild to borderline intellectual disability (MBID) often complete schooling without mastering basic math skills, even though basic math is essential for math-related challenges in everyday life. Limited attention to cognitive skills and low executive functioning (EF) may cause this delay. We aimed to improve math skills in an MBID-sample using computerized math training. Also, it was investigated whether EF and math performance were related and whether computerized math training had beneficial effects on EF. The sample consisted of a total of 58 adolescents (12-15 years) from special education. Participants were randomly assigned to either the experimental group or a treatment as usual (TAU) group. In the experimental condition, participants received 5 weeks of training. Math performance and EF were assessed before and after the training period. Math performance improved equally in both groups. However, frequently practicing participants improved more than participants in the control group. Visuo-spatial memory skills were positively related to addition and subtraction skills. Transfer effects from math training to EF were absent. It is concluded that math skills may increase if a reasonable effort in practicing math skills is made. The relation between visuo-spatial memory skills provides opportunities for improving math performance. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1815-1824
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Volume34
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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