Beyond Mathematics Interventions: A Look at the Perceptions and Thought Processes of Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities or at Risk for Mathematics Difficulties




Hay, Damali

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The purpose of this mixed-methods research study was to understand the perceptions and thought processes of a group of secondary students with learning disabilities (LD) or at risk for mathematics difficulties. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, the researcher explored the phenomenon of how a group of students perceived mathematics and thought mathematically, which included measuring students’ attitude toward mathematics, knowledge of math, and students’ thought process when performing mathematical tasks. Data were collected through a demographic questionnaire, math attitude inventory, a math diagnostic test, a clinical interview, and a semistructured interview. A convenience sampling followed by a purposeful selection was used in selecting students from secondary schools in a northeastern part of the United States. This study consisted of six students diagnosed with a specific learning disability (LD) and two students at risk for mathematics difficulties. The quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, while the qualitative data were analyzed through an inductive analysis consisting of a constant comparative analysis method. A collective set of common procedural and mathematical errors were identified across participants and addressed. In addition, three themes that influenced the perceptions of students with LD and students at risk for mathematics difficulties about math were identified: (a) motivational factors, (b) teacher characteristics, and (c) instructional approaches. Implications for future research, policy makers, schools, and teachers are discussed. Limitations and suggestions for further research are also presented.



Education, Special education, Mathematics, Attitude towards math, Learning Disabilities, Math, Mathematics thinking, Secondary Students, Special Education