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Intervention in Mathematics to Professionally Support Low-Achieving Students

Background and Research Aim

In Germany, a high percentage of students reach only the lower levels of competence in mathematics at the end of elementary school and thus do not have the necessary skills to achieve successful learning at secondary level (Kohrt, Haag, & Stanat, 2017). These low-achieving students not only face particular challenges themselves; they also present the school system with challenges: After the transition to secondary school, the curriculum progresses and new material is continuously being added. However, at the same time, a number of gaps in previous knowledge must be closed in order to lay the foundation for future learning processes. Also, after several experiences of failure in elementary school, the motivational prerequisites of low-achieving students are particularly unfavorable. These students need special support in order to learn successfully at secondary level and, thus, to ultimately have the chance of obtaining a school-leaving certificate and participating in vocational training and society.

The “IMPULSE” project, under the management of Dr. Karin Guill and Dr. Janina Roloff-Bruchmann, investigates the potential of various approaches to support low-achieving students in mathematics at the transition to secondary school.

The planned intervention study aims to test the effect of an adaptive e-learning program—both by itself and in combination with remedial teaching in small groups—on the performance, motivation, and emotions of low-achieving students.

The remedial teaching lessons will be carried out by trained student teachers. The training, and specific guided reflection that is conducted during the remedial teaching lessons, is expected to have positive effects on the professional competence of student teachers.

Study Design


Figure 1: Study design of IMPULSE

After a 2.5-day training course, approx. N = 150 student teachers will carry out a 12-week remedial teaching program in small groups (approx. 3-5 students) with approx. N = 400 low-achieving students (see Figure 1). In addition, a control group of approx. N = 75 student teachers will be accompanied over the entire intervention period. At the student level, an intervention group of approx. N = 33 school classes is also planned, which will receive only the learning program, as well as a waiting control group with approx. N = 30 school classes, which will only be provided with the learning program after the intervention period has expired (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: IMPULSE Time Plan. The survey times and interventions for student teachers are shown in red (dark red = control group), for students in green (dark green = waiting control group), and for mathematics teachers of all classes in dark blue. T = time of assessment, LP = learning program.

Persons involved

Management: Dr. Karin Guill & Dr. Janina Roloff-Bruchmann
Team: Lisa Benckwitz and Katharina Hilpert