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Analysis of the Learning Disabilities in Math

The second chapter addresses in details the definition, classification and analysis of the Learning Disabilities in Math.

Analysis of the Learning Disabilities in Mathematics

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Discomfort in the classroom and learning difficulties are manifestations often connected to risk factors, which could be of physical or socio-cultural origin, to be addressed with a theoretically founded and adequately elaborated intervention model based on empirical evidence, so as to avoid school failure. The different risk factors and their effects are attributable to some large-scale factors. According to numerous international researches, the influence of the socio-cultural background persists, above all, on the outcomes, which generates significant delays and distances in cognitive development, from the first years of life (Strand, 2014). In the category of learners defined as ‘low achieving’ (LA), the effects of deficits are more evident in the linguistic field, but important deficiencies are also found in the mathematical one (Geary et al., 2012). Low achieving students, those who fall below grade level, show frequent difficulties in operations linked to the memory process, thus solving problems requiring computational strategies as an effect of fact retrieval deficit. Limitations in problem-solving are often also linked to difficulties in reading and understanding texts, deficits in the formulation of hypotheses, in logical processes, in application and adaptation of math principles, and other different cognitive subtypes of mathematics learning difficulties (MLD) which have been classified through data-driven approaches (Bartelet et al, 2014). Motivational deficiencies also reduce the determination of pupils in tackling the cognitive obstacles posed by complex mathematical content. To cope adequately with these difficulties, it is necessary to propose methods that take into account the complexity of the factors that generate learning problems, the variety of their effects and the speed with which differences in skills are generated, so as to put in place targeted and multiple protective factors. It is a question of making early diagnoses adequate to identify the specific learning problems and of activating the cognitive processes of the pupils (such as perceiving, recognizing, conceiving, and reasoning) which are not adequately stimulated, with regard to the fundamental contents, in an integrated learning context of mathematics and language, which motivates them to success.

Low achieving in math even for those who present average literacy skills, have a direct effect on everyday life, resulting in fewer work opportunities and lower salaries as documented in analysis made in the UK and USA. Therefore, the importance of an educational system aware of this consequence is fundamental to tackle deficits in order to prepare young people to carry out, according to their own possibilities and choices, an activity or function that contribute to the material or spiritual progress of society.

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The SMiLD project is funded by the European Commission through the Italian National Agency for the Erasmus+ Programme. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.