Purpose of Study
To investigate the mathematics achievement effects of three commonly proposed methods of dealing with student heterogeneity: individualizing instruction (Team Assisted Individualization TAI), within class ability grouping (Ability Grouped Active Teaching AGAT), and whole class instruction (Missouri Mathematics Program MMP) in different settings, (urban and rural) for students of different levels of prior achievement.
Experiment 1: 345 students (71% white, 26% black, and 3% Asian-American) in 15 grade 4-6 classes in a Wilmington, Delaware, school district formed as a consequence of an extensive desegregation plan.
Experiment 2: 480 students (91% white, 7% black, and 2% Asian-American) in 22 grade 3-5 classrooms in and around Hagerstown, Maryland.
Experiment 1: All teachers implemented the major components of their methods. There were no pretest differences. For achievement, TAI and AGAT means were almost the same, and both were substantially higher than MMP. Attitude data for Liking of Math Class were significant with differences due to low scores for MMP classes. Both TAI and AGAT did not differ. On Self Concept in Math scale, significant results indicated TAI students scored much higher than AGAT and MMP, who did not differ.
Experiment 2: All teachers implemented the major components of their methods. Achievement data indicated significant pretest differences on Concepts and applications despite random assignment, but not for Computations. Post test scores were marginally significant for Computations, with AGAT and TAI not differing, but being superior to MMP. All three experimental conditions exceeded control. For Liking for Math Class significant results showed TAI ahead of AGAT and MMP. MMP exceeded control, but AGAT did not differ from control. There was no significance in results for Self Concept in Math.
Interaction effects for students at different achievement levels, in different treatments, and for sex and race in Experiments 1 and 2, were not found, contrary to expectations.
Commonality in findings across the two studies. Team Assisted Individualization (TAI) and Ability Grouped Active Teaching (AGAT) increased computational skills more then the Missouri Mathematics Program (MMP) and traditional whole-class instruction. No differences found between TAI and AGAT in either experiment. No statistical differences in Concepts and Applications. Achievement effects were main effects. No statistically significant interactions were found between treatment and absolute levels of prior achievement relative to class means, contradicting the expectation that effects of TAI and AGAT (designed to accommodate diverse achievement levels) would be most positive for students performing farthest from class means and in highly heterogeneous settings. Within-class ability grouping and methods that that include adapting instruction to diverse needs may produce gains in instructional effectiveness by providing appropriate levels of instruction, that may be partly offset by losses in instructional effectiveness due to the difficulty of managing multiple ability groups. If motivation and management problems can be overcome, this may be a particularly effective procedure. TAI continued to be used by teachers after the research program concluded.