Improving seventh grade students' learning of ratio and proportion: The role of schema-based instruction

Asha K. Jitendra, Jon R. Star, Kristin Starosta, Jayne M. Leh, Sheetal Sood, Grace Caskie, Cheyenne L. Hughes, Toshi R. Mack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The present study evaluated the effectiveness of an instructional intervention (schema-based instruction, SBI) that was designed to meet the diverse needs of middle school students by addressing the research literatures from both special education and mathematics education. Specifically, SBI emphasizes the role of the mathematical structure of problems and also provides students with a heuristic to aid and self-monitor problem solving. Further, SBI addresses well-articulated problem solving strategies and supports flexible use of the strategies based on the problem situation. One hundred forty eight seventh-grade students and their teachers participated in a 10-day intervention on learning to solve ratio and proportion word problems, with classrooms randomly assigned to SBI or a control condition. Results suggested that students in SBI treatment classes outperformed students in control classes on a problem solving measure, both at posttest and on a delayed posttest administered 4 months later. However, the two groups' performance was comparable on a state standardized mathematics achievement test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-264
Number of pages15
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education, through Grant # R305K060075. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the US Department of Education. We would like to thank Dr. Michael Rodriguez for his valuable assistance and feedback regarding the data analysis procedures. In addition, we would like to express our appreciation to the administrators, faculty, and students at Shawnee Middle School. Without their cooperation and effort, this study would not have been possible. A version of this article was presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in New York City, NY.


  • Middle school students
  • Ratio and proportion
  • Schema-based instruction
  • Word problem solving


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