Masters Thesis

Use of Khan Academy to Reinforce Learning of Mathematics for Middle School Students with Special Needs.

Technology hardware and software are becoming increasingly available for use in the classroom. Even so, its effectiveness for learning new concepts in mathematics must be verified. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not middle school students with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), Other Heath Impairments (OHI), or Emotionally Disturbed (ED) learned mathematics content using an online mathematics program, Khan Academy, as opposed to teacher-led instruction or a combination of both teacher-led and Khan Academy. A quasi-experimental design was used with the students serving as their own comparison group. Students were exposed to three different conditions over the course of four months: 1) computer aided instruction solely, 2) computer aided instruction with adult support, and 3) direct instruction from the teacher. The participants were middle school students in the 7th and 8th grade in a special class designed for students with challenging behaviors. Ten participants, eight males and two females with a broad range of disabilities ranging from Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), Other Heath Impairments (OHI), or Emotionally Disturbed (ED) took part in this study. The results were inconclusive; however there was exceptional social validity and significance in that all students profited from all models of instruction, student attention to tasks were improved and negative behaviors were not increased in two of the three models. Only the condition in which students could not ask for assistance resulted in offtask or negative behavior. Thus, even though the study was limited by the small sample size and the short trial period, the results supported the use of Khan Academy as a tool for instruction of students with challenging behaviors.

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