Math FUNdations is both a text-based and app-based intervention that seeks to help parents engage in math learning with their elementary school children (grades 3 and 4), by addressing barriers for effective parental engagement. The underlying theory of action for Math FUNdations is to increase students’ math achievement via three main mechanisms together: (1) increase the quality of parental engagement in math at home, by decreasing parental and students’ math anxiety; (2) decrease parents’ misbeliefs about the math learning standards that need to be met by their children; and (3) increase the amount of parental engagement in math at home.
Text-based: Every week, we will send parents in the treatment group three texts suggesting simple, fun math activities they can do with their child at home, helping them convey positive emotions around math and informing them of the learning milestones in math that their children need to know by the end of fourth grade. Specifically,
• The ENCOURAGE texts will be sent on Mondays. These texts are designed to set a positive tone for interactions around math. The goal of these texts is to help parents be aware of their positive and negative emotions while interacting around math and, consequently, understand how they could convey their math anxiety to their children. The texts will provide tips to parents about how to minimize their math-anxiety-related behaviors.
• The ELEVATE texts will be sent on Wednesdays. These texts aim to inform parents, in a simple language, about what their children should know by the end of fourth grade. These texts will provide parents with a brief version of a Texas math standard (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills [TEKS]). In addition, these texts will contain a link to the extended version of the learning standard.
• The ENGAGE texts will be sent on Fridays. These texts aim to provide parents with a simple (easy-to-achieve), fun math activity for helping their children. Parents will also receive a link to a step-by-step guide to the activity. Each of these at-home activities is matched to a 4th-grade standard based on Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
App-based: The technological component of Math FUNdations is the web app called Math with Meaning (MwM) developed by the Co-PI, Dr. Santana, who is CEO of our partnering Chilean Institution +Meaning. MwM allows for math activities to include images and be more dynamic, while permitting the researchers to collect data at the end of each activity. Parents do not need to download any app, as it is accessed directly through the internet browser (i.e., can be accessed through any PC or mobile phone). Importantly, MwM will also allow us to ask parents directly about their beliefs regarding what their child is learning in math vs. what their child really needs to know in math. Note that a link will be added to either the ELEVATE and/or ENGAGE texts.
Research Questions: This RCT pilot aims to address the following interrelated research questions: (1) What are the effects of the Math FUNdations on third and fourth grade students’ math outcomes (grades and test scores)? and (2) What are the effects of the Math FUNdations on the reported levels of parental math anxiety, parental self-efficacy for supporting their child in math, and students’ feelings about math (as perceived by parents)?