Effectiveness of Schema-Based Instruction for Improving Seventh-Grade Students' Proportional Reasoning: A Randomized Experiment

Asha K. Jitendra, Jon R. Star, Danielle N. Dupuis, Michael C. Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This study examined the effect of schema-based instruction (SBI) on 7th-grade students' mathematical problem-solving performance. SBI is an instructional intervention that emphasizes the role of mathematical structure in word problems and also provides students with a heuristic to self-monitor and aid problem solving. Using a pretest-intervention-posttest-retention test design, the study compared the learning outcomes for 1,163 students in 42 classrooms who were randomly assigned to treatment (SBI) or control condition. After 6 weeks of instruction, results of multilevel modeling indicated significant differences favoring the SBI condition in proportion problem solving involving ratios/rates and percents on an immediate posttest (g = 1.24) and on a 6-week retention test (g = 1.27). No significant difference between conditions was found for a test of transfer. These results demonstrate that SBI was more effective than students' regular mathematics instruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-136
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Research on Educational Effectiveness
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education, through grant # R305K060002 to the University of Minnesota. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the US Department of Education. We gratefully acknowledge the efforts of all teachers and students who participated. Thanks are extended to the Project Coordinator, Susan Slater, as well as Mary Lindell, Fumio someki, Beth Zukowski, Xueqin Qian, and Michael Berner who served as research assistants for the study.


  • Word problem solving
  • middle school students
  • ratio, proportion, and percent
  • schema-based instruction

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