Improving basic facts performance


Elementary grade students


Students learn to make self-instruction statements during math problem solving activities. The statements pertain to general work habits (e.g., "Remember to work slowly and carefully" and "Keep your eyes on your paper") and task-specific behaviors (e.g., "Which is the biggest number?" and "Write the biggest number and put marks next to it for the other number").

Conduct training on an individual basis, in ten-minute sessions, five days per week. The instructor should state the self-instruction statements and have the student repeat them. Then the student will make the self-instruction statements with prompting from the instructor. Finally, the prompts should be faded to the point at which the student can make the statements independently and consistently.

The task-specific statements should be accompanied by the physical behaviors that the statement describes. These statements should also pertain to the order of the steps necessary to complete the problem (i.e., "First I..., then I..., etc.). The instructor should conduct daily practice trials after training is completed to make sure students are maintaining self-instruction skills. Appropriate reinforcement should be given for improved performance.


Percent of daily worksheet problems completed correctly.


Albion, F. M., & Salzberg, C. L. (1982). The effect of self-instructions on the rate of correct addition problems with mentally retarded children. Education and Treatment of Children, 5(2), 121-131.


Alyson Rice, and Nicole Frye, UVA