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To help teachers strengthen the foundation of math skills for young children, Nancy Jordan and Nancy Dyson, School of Education, have developed a curriculum called Number Sense Interventions.

Jordan is in the midst of a five-year grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to study students at risk for math difficulties and develop interventions to help kindergartners develop number sense. She is also principal investigator of the Center for Improving Learning of Fractions, funded by the Institute for Education Sciences (IES).

The user-friendly guide they have developed contains interventions that are fun, simple and highly effective at boosting key math skills related to number concepts, number relations, and number operations.

Teachers get 24 scripted lessons, each 30 minutes long, designed for small groups of struggling learners. Proven in studies to improve young children’s number sense, these engaging lessons help resolve early math struggles before first grade and start students on the path to long-term success in elementary school and beyond.

The guide is based on research published in 2012 in the Journal of Educational Psychology that Jordan conducted with UD colleagues Dyson, Joseph Glutting, professor, and former education doctoral students Brenna Hassinger-Das and Casey Irwin, evaluating children from five Delaware elementary schools that serve primarily low-income children.

Using random assignment, 132 students were divided into three groups – a number sense intervention, a contrasting language intervention, and a business-as-usual control group. The results showed that the number sense intervention group performed better on number competencies and math achievement than the comparison groups.

And eight weeks later, when the children were tested again, many of the effects remained, suggesting they had internalized what they learned.

Jordan and Glutting have also developed a number sense screener to help teachers determine who needs help and to monitor progress. Her research team plans to scale up the number sense intervention to serve more kindergartners and to develop follow-up programs for children in subsequent grades.

“Our study shows that early number sense is malleable and can be successfully to taught to most children,” says Jordan.

Number Sense Interventions is available through Brookes Publishing