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Enabling Mathematics Learning of Struggling Students

Yan Ping Xin, Ron Tzur, and Helen Thouless, eds.
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
Research in Mathematics Education
[Reviewed by
Peter Olszewski
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This book contains thirteen research-based articles discussing 21st century learning disabilities in mathematics using a teaching perspective on how teachers can address students with these conditions. Now more than ever with pre-pandemic days in classrooms, there is a learning gap with students being deprived of learning basic counting skills to knowing simple algebraic properties. The focus of the book is for the teacher to gain best practice skills to help these students be successful. There are four key questions that the book presents on page v of the Introduction: (1) How to plan instruction for students who come to the teacher not ready? (2) How to build conceptual understanding of students with learning disabilities or difficulties? (3) How to help move students from where they are to where they should be mathematically? (4) What can teachers do (adapt) to foster students’ growth?
The first example of a fourth-grade student is presented on page 5. His teacher developed a program for him to use, providing an example of how to create diverse ways the students can learn the same concepts as their peers without focusing on the limitations of the student. In Chapter 2, background information is given on how cognitive issues, physical abilities, and social and emotional issues are presented that contribute to mathematical learning difficulties (MLD). The importance of variability is discussed, which points out that students with MLD vary in degree of special characteristics and that teachers need to be aware of students' capabilities and limitations.
The book reflects the decade-long works by members of the International Group for Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME) and the North American Chapter of the PME working groups. The works and research presented provide prospective and practicing teachers with research insights into the mathematical difficulties of students with learning disabilities in mathematics (LDM) and with classroom best practices that address these difficulties. I highly recommend this book for those teachers around the world who teach mathematics in the special education field. This book is rich with ideas from basic counting ideas to algebra and how to best help students with critical thinking skills.


Peter Olszewski is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL, an editor for Larson Texts, Inc., and is the 362nd Chapter Advisor of the Pennsylvania Alpha Beta Chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon. His Research fields are in mathematics education, Cayley Color Graphs, Markov Chains, and mathematical textbooks. He can be reached at Outside of teaching and textbook editing, he enjoys spending time with his loving wife, Emily, playing golf, playing guitar and bass, reading, gardening, traveling, and painting landscapes.