Date of Award


Degree Name

Specialist in Education



First Advisor

Dr. Galen J. Alessi

Second Advisor

Dr. Cheryl Poche

Third Advisor

Dr. Howard E. Farris

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This study was an attempt to determine which computation procedure students would select under varying classroom conditions. It is a systematic replication of previous research by Gillespie (1976). Algorithm preferences of 14 third grade students, 10 high accuracy and four low accuracy on a math facts test, were investigated under conditions of differentially increasing the number of problems with and without reinforcement, Reversal designs were used. The students completed 4X5 array problems and chose which algorithm to use, but after choosing the same algorithm for three consecutive sessions, they were required to use the alternative algorithm the next session. Preference was defined as using the same algorithm in six consecutive free choice sessions. Preference was determined during a baseline number of problems and also for 50% and 100% more problems. The Hutchings' algorithm was preferred 81% of the time in experiment 1 and 88% of the time in experiment 2. Algorithm preferences dissolved during 100% more problems and reinforcement did not alter the point where a shift from the preferred algorithm occurred.