Education professor’s paper receives highest rating from What Works Clearinghouse

Author: Holly Ober
October 25, 2021

UC Riverside education professor Asha Jitendra is the lead author on a study that received the highest rating from the What Works Clearinghouse, or WWC, an initiative of the Institute of Education Sciences that reviews the existing research on different programs, products, practices, and policies in education. The study meets WWC standards without reservations, a difficult standard to attain.

Asha Jitendra
Asha Jitendra

The 2019 paper, “Improving student learning of ratio, proportion, and percent: a replication study of schema-based instruction,” was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology.

The WWC noted that in this IES-funded study, students received 21 daily lessons using schema-based instruction over six weeks during their regularly scheduled math classes. The lessons focused on proportional relationships, including ratios, rates, and percentages. 

Jitendra and colleagues randomly assigned classrooms or schools to receive either schema-based instruction or typical math instruction for six weeks. Fifty-nine seventh-grade math classrooms in 36 middle schools across five districts in two states participated in the study. Of the 1,411 students included in the study, 56% identified as white, 26% identified as Hispanic, 8% identified as Black, and 5% identified as Asian. About one-quarter of students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

Compared with students who received typical math instruction, students who received schema-based instruction performed higher on a standardized math problem-solving test. They also demonstrated better problem-solving skills on an assessment developed by the study authors.

Jitendra is a professor and Peloy Chair in Learning Disabilities in the School of Education. Her research focuses on instructional design, specifically mathematics problem-solving and reading interventions for students with learning disabilities; assessment; and textbook analysis. Her work on schema-based instruction, a research-based intervention for word problem solving, has evolved over the last 25 years to incorporate curriculum design theory and combine best practices in special education and contemporary mathematics education to improve mathematics outcomes for a wide range of learners.