The 1-Minute Explicit Timing Intervention: The Influence of Mathematics Problem Difficulty

By Rhymer, Katrina N.; Skinner, Christopher H. et al. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, December 2002 | Go to article overview

The 1-Minute Explicit Timing Intervention: The Influence of Mathematics Problem Difficulty


Rhymer, Katrina N., Skinner, Christopher H., Jackson, Shantwania, McNeill, Stephanie, Smith, Tawnya, Jackson, Bertha, Journal of Instructional Psychology


This study examined the effects of explicit timing with varying levels of mathematics tasks. Fifty-four students in the sixth-grade completed a one-step addition task (1st grade level), a three-step subtraction task (3.5 grade level), and a complex multiplication task (6th grade level) during a no timing condition and a timing condition. During baseline, students were told to correctly complete as many problems as possible. Students were not informed of a time deadline; however, 3 minutes were allowed per mathematics task (i.e., researcher covertly timed). During intervention, students were told that they had 3 minutes to correctly complete as many problems as possible. A 2 (timing) by 3 (assignment) within-subjects analysis of variance indicated that students completed more problems correct per minute during the explicit timing condition than during the no timing condition while maintaining accuracy. Furthermore, on the one-step addition task and the three-step subtraction task, students completed more problems correct per minute during the explicit timing condition when compared to the no timing condition. In conclusion, explicit timing appears to have differential effects based on the complexity of the academic task. This intervention is effective in the classroom for basic skills review but not for more complex mathematics tasks.

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Explicit timing is a procedure that alerts students to a time limit while they are completing an academic assignment. Van Houten and Thompson (1976) compared one-minute explicit timing intervals to a 30-minute interval without the explicit timing. Second grade students with poor school performance completed 1 digit plus 1 digit addition problems and 1 digit minus 1 digit subtraction problems. Van Houten and Thompson (1976) used an ABAB reversal design for this study. The results indicated that students completed more problems correct per minute during the explicit timing conditions. During the second baseline, the number of problems completed correct per minute decreased but then increased again when the second explicit timing condition was implemented. Accuracy rates remained between 90 and 100% for all experimental conditions. Therefore, explicit timing was effective with second grade students for single digit addition and subtraction problems.

Miller, Hall, and Heward (1995) replicated Van Houten and Thompson (1976) by comparing one-minute explicit timing intervals to a 10-minute interval without the explicit timing. Two classrooms of students participated in this experiment, 23 students in a first grade classroom and 11 students between the ages of 9 and 12 years old in a special education classroom. A pre-experimental assessment was conducted to identify the type of math facts that most students could answer correctly. Four types of math facts were assessed: addition problems with sums less than 10, addition problems with sums between 10 and 18, subtraction problems with minuends less than 10, and subtraction problems with minuends between 10 and 18. The pre-experimental assessment indicated that most students could not answer correctly the subtraction problems with minuends between 10 and 18; therefore, these math problems were not included in the math packet. For the experiment, mixed math sheets were created which included addition problems with sums less than 10, addition problems with sums between 10 and 18, and subtraction problems with minuends less than 10. The results of the Miller, Hall, and Heward (1995) study replicated the Van Houten and Thompson (1976) study. Students completed more math problems correct during the one-minute timing intervals than during the 10 minute work interval without the explicit timing. Furthermore, accuracy rates remained between 82-89% for the explicit timing condition and the 10 minute condition. Therefore, explicit timing appears to be effective for children in regular education and special education when completing simple addition and subtraction problems. …

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