There is limited knowledge on how to teach basic arithmetic in special education. According to the Swedish curriculum children should learn enough arithmetic and mathematical skills to be able to handle everyday life and to be prepared for further education. Knowledge on mathematical skills in persons with intellectual disability is limited and mainly based on research on specific genetic syndromes, such as Down syndrome. Training improves mathematical skills in persons with intellectual disability, and from a theoretical perspective compensation for cognitive limitations is possible. This project intends to provide results that can be applied in pedagogical tools to use in special education.
Adaptation to numeric and arithmetic skills
Design adaptation of numerical and arithmetic training on iPads for children and adolescents with intellectual disability is the focus of this project. The researchers in the project have experience from numerical and arithmetic training in both main stream schools, and training memory in special needs schools. The training will be adapted to the group with intellectual disability, results will be evaluated and the retention of training effects will be investigated.
Unknown reasons for intellectual disability
This research intends to contribute to the debate on weather the development of numerical and arithmetic skills in persons with intellectual disability is delayed or proceeds in different steps compared to persons without intellectual disability.
Human beings are born with a non-verbal system representing numbers. One part of the system represents large numbers, and another part represent small numbers. This system is connected with the number line and results in a mental line that develops and becomes more linear, which is related to the development of arithmetical skills. Counting is defined by five principles: One number is associated with each counted object, the order of digits is constant, the final digit used when counting represents the total number of objects counted. Children use four strategies for solving arithmetical tasks: counting on fingers, with aid from fingers, verbal counting and direct recall from memory. Counting is performed by three strategies: counting all, maximum procedure and minimum procedure.
Intellectual disability, numerical and mathematical skills
Intellectual disability is associated with limited intellectual functions and mathematical skills. The development of understanding of numbers is delayed in persons with intellectual disability. Counting skills are related to mathematical competence. Children with intellectual disability progress from the logarithmic to a linear thinking to estimate numbers in the same way as regular children. Although there has been positive results from research programs implemented in regular schools, on mathematical training, these results have led to very few didactical recommendations.
Hunting planets is presented on iPads and will be used for training counting skills and basic arithmetic. The game adapt to the child’s skills and needs, which can be important for children with intellectual disability. Results can be compared to results from regular schools in Sweden. we intend to use a longitudinal design. The hunting planets game will be adapted to persons with intellectual disability. Retention of training will be evaluated three, six and 12 months after training.