Short and long-term effects of a mathematics tablet intervention for low performing second graders.

Using a randomized placebo controlled design, we examined the direct and follow-up effects (at 6 and 12 months) of a mathematics tablet intervention. Math training focused primarily on basic arithmetic (addition and subtraction facts up to 12), and secondarily on number knowledge and word problems. We investigated the moderating effects of IQ and socioeconomic factors, and additive effects of working memory (WM) training. A representative sample of 283 low performing second-grade students were randomly assigned to control (n = 52), reading placebo (n = 78), math intervention (MA; n = 76), or math plus WM training (MA + WM; n = 77). Both math conditions scored significantly higher than control and placebo on the posttest of basic arithmetic, but not on arithmetic transfer and problem solving. WM training did not show additive effects. Given the virtually identical patterns, we collapsed the control and placebo, respectively, MA and MA + WM conditions. The collapsed MA/MA + WM condition demonstrated significant medium-sized effects (d = 0.53–0.67) on basic arithmetic compared with the collapsed control/placebo condition at posttest. There was a fadeout of effects at 6-month follow-up (d = 0.18–0.28), that declined further at 12 months (d = 0.03–0.13). IQ was a significant moderator of direct and long-term effects on addition up to 12 and subtraction up to 18, where students with lower IQ benefitted more than higher IQ students. Socioeconomic factors did not moderate outcome. The intervention effectively improved basic arithmetic among low performing second graders. Although the effects waned at 6-month follow-up, there was some indication that children with lower IQ demonstrated sustained gains. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)