Development and Evaluation of a Music-Based Math Readiness Intervention Set (MRIS) for Students with Disabilities

December 2023
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Research in math readiness skill development has increased due to low student performance in math as well as the vital role that math skills play in early language development and reading skills. Music therapists work with clients in many practice areas including special education. Standards of clinical practice state that interventions used with clients to accomplish individual goals should be evidence-based. Evidence can take many diverse forms; there may be obstacles to finding the best evidence. The researcher developed a tool entitled the Math Readiness Intervention Set (MRIS) for use with clients with disabilities to help them learn early math skills. The purpose of this study was to examine the MRIS to identify evidence that it can support achievement of math goals through music therapy. The research questions were (1) What is the evidence that the MRIS can be used as a tool to effectively teach early math concepts? and (2) To what extent does the MRIS adhere to evidence-based practice (EBP) in music therapy intervention development? A body of evidence was compiled and analyzed to answer the research questions. Evidence included examination of the MRIS development process and summaries of research findings in math education and music therapy. Additionally, one MRIS intervention was recorded; a music analysis of the intervention was created by the researcher and feedback on the intervention from two math education experts and two music therapy experts was examined. Analysis of compiled evidence indicated that while the MRIS can be used as a tool to teach early math concepts, modifications are recommended to align with best practices in math education. The answer to research question two revealed mixed adherence to EBP. Limitations of the study included researcher bias and missing evidence. A series of recommendations were made including ways to gather the best evidence for music therapy interventions and considerations for music therapist education. In the area of math education through interdisciplinary collaboration, tools like the MRIS can provide a research-based starting point to help facilitate appropriate teaching and learning of early math concepts.

Music Therapy, Special Education