Exploring Mathematics Instructional Strategies Working for Students with Emotional and/or Behavioural Disorders


  • Mary-Ann Dogoe University of Saskatchewan


This study explored instructional strategies elementary-year mathematics teachers of students with emotional and/or behavioural disorders (EBD) perceived to be helpful in improving students’ performance in mathematics using a resiliency perspective (i.e., the ability to positively adapt despite experiencing significant adversity; Luthar, Cicchetti, & Becker, 2000).  The researcher interviewed three elementary-year teachers to gain insight into their teaching experiences and the instructional strategies.  A basic interpretive qualitative approach (Merriam, 2002) was used to understand the underlying meaning of the experiences of these mathematics teachers of students with EBD as they used evidence-based instructional strategies to improve students’ academic performance in mathematics and behaviour during instruction.  A definitional focus on resiliency was the lens utilized for analyzing data generated through the interviews (Luthar, Cicchetti & Becker, 2000; Masten, 2001; Smith & Prior, 1995; Smokowski, 1998).  Three themes emerged from participant interviews: ways of engaging students in learning; from dead time to active learning; and promoting positive student behaviour.  Specifically, teachers reported an instructional strategy that met the needs of students of EBD which helped them obtain academic success in mathematics, and students were also better behaved in classrooms where instructional strategies employed were meeting their individual needs.  These findings suggest an appropriate instructional strategy influences how students of EBD make meaning of mathematics, since teachers observed students were able to do higher thinking mathematics when  strategies were in place in the classroom that met their individual needs.  Teachers also shared that students were able to make good behavioural choices when they were experiencing academic success in the classroom.  Practical implications of the findings, the limitations and strengths of the current study, and areas for future research are discussed.