Autonomy in Action Improving Children's Ability to Self-Regulate Their Math Practice

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Anna Schnell
Brandie Matalka
Nile Najmi
Kloos Heidi


By Anna Schnell, Psychology; Brandie Matalka, Psychology; Nile Namji, Psychology

Advisor: Heidi Kloos

Presentation ID: 247

Abstract: This study examined the role of self-regulated math practice for elementary school students in an urban setting. Self-regulated math practice is imperative because when practice is intrinsically motivated, students have a higher chance of academic success. This is especially important in urban schools where students consistently underperform in math. We predicted that giving children autonomy over what to practice is helpful in fostering math learning. To test this, we used an existing data set from an enrichment program carried out at a local elementary school. In the program, students chose math problems to practice from the math enrichment application, IXL. To help inform their choices, students were provided with practice guides based on their estimated grade level. These practice guides listed different math skills and were separated into three levels of difficulty. During most weeks, the volunteers worked one-on-one with students to provide support during math practice sessions. However, as a manipulation of autonomy, during one week children were given less guidance from volunteers. The data set consisted of two separate weeks. Data for both weeks included the time students spent practicing, students' attitudes toward practice, and questions answered correctly. Results indicated that when children had more autonomy they practiced for longer periods of time, but practiced simpler math than they did when working one-on-one with a volunteer. 

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Category: Youth in Society