Taking Stock of 40 Years of Research on Mathematical Learning Disability: Methodological Issues and Future Directions

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Katherine E. Lewis University of Washington

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Marie B. Fisher University of Washington

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Although approximately 5–8% of students have a mathematical learning disability (MLD), researchers have yet to develop a consensus operational definition. To examine how MLD has been identified and what mathematics topics have been explored, we conducted a systematic review of 164 studies on MLD published between 1974 and 2013. Findings indicate that (a) there was great variability in the classification methods used, (b) studies rarely reported demographic differences between the MLD and typically achieving groups, and (c) studies overwhelmingly focused on elementary–aged students engaged in basic arithmetic calculation. To move the field toward a more precise and shared definition of MLD, we argue for standards for methodology and reporting, and we identify a need for research addressing more complex mathematics.

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Contributor Notes

Katherine E. Lewis, College of Education, University of Washington, Box 353600, Seattle, WA 98195; kelewis2@uw.edu

Marie B. Fisher, College of Education, University of Washington, Box 353600, Seattle, WA 98195; mfisher4@uw.edu

(Corresponding author is Lewis kelewis2@uw.edu)
(Corresponding author is Fisher mfisher4@uw.edu)
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Journal for Research in Mathematics Education
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