Funded Projects

Research that shapes the future

The Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families & Schools is an interdisciplinary research center in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Enhancing Students with Math Difficulties Transition from Arithmetic to Algebra

Project Information

Principal Investigator: Jessica Min Namkung
Co-Principal Investigator:
Funding Agency: Layman Award
Award Date:
Theme: Academic Intervention & Learning, Early Education & Development, STEM Education
Project URL: N/A

For more information please contact Jessica Min Namkung at


Students struggling to learn math typically show the most severe and persistent underachievement in algebra compared to their peers.

Pre-algebra competence among middle school students is crucial to establishing conceptual foundations for formal algebra, mathematics research. However, evidence-based, pre-algebra interventions for students with math-learning difficulties are scarce.

This study will refine, test and finalize a pre-algebra intervention for struggling middle school students. The 10-week process uses explicit instruction and physical objects to bridge the conceptual and procedural understanding of solving linear equations.

The three-phase project begins with six middle school mathematics teachers, who will be recruited to review the overall process and provide feedback. Revisions will be made based on their feedback.

Phase two will explore feasibility and finalization. The process will be tested on five seventh-graders who struggle with learning math and are below the 25th percentile of testing scores. The process will then be further adjusted using students’ responsiveness to the intervention.

In the final phase, pilot testing will begin using a small-scale randomized controlled trial. A total of 30 seventh-graders with mathematics difficulties will be recruited and randomly assigned to either a treatment group — in which students receive the intervention three times a week, 30 minutes a day, for 10 weeks — or a control group.

The expected outcome is that the intervention group will show significantly higher improvement scores and larger effect sizes on pre-algebra outcome measures than students in the control group.