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Arithmetic difficulties of children with hearing impairment

Prof. Gowramma I. P., Department of Education, Regional Institute of Education, Bhubaneswar – 751022
Year: 2015


It has been well documented that hearing impairment in early childhood has an adverse effect on speech and language development. Impairment in the development of speech, language and oral communication skills is known to hinder the educational development of children. Paul and Jackson (1993) reported that differences in language abilities consequent to hearing impairment affects a student’s ability to perform in traditional academic areas. The delay in educational achievement of children with hearing impairment (CWHI) compared to their hearing peers has been noted to occur since the educational system is highly language based. Paul and Quigley (1994) reported that students with complete or partial hearing impairment have considerable difficulty succeeding in an educational system that depends primarily on spoken word and written language to transmit knowledge. According to Flexer (1999), irrespective of the degree of impairment, hearing loss if unmanaged can have a negative impact on the development of academic competencies. A decade before this, Greenberg and Kusche (1989) and Martin (1985) had observed that children with mild-to-moderate hearing loss achieve below expectations, based on their performance on a test of cognitive ability.

Literature in the area of mathematics learning of CWHI is rich. A review of literature between 1980 and 2013 indicates that CWHI lag behind their hearing peers in mathematics achievement (Swanwick, Oddy, & Roper, 2005). Disparity in the performance of CWHI and their hearing counterparts was noticed in mathematics achievement on the Stanford Achievement Test. Compared to their reading performance they performed at a higher grade level in mathematics though the performance was below grade level (Stewart & Kluwin, 2001). Paranjape (1998) observed similar results when she compared the performance of CWHI with normally hearing children (NHC) based on achievement tests which showed difference in language performance but not in mathematics. Gowramma (2006) found no significant difference in the performance of CWHI when compared with a matched group of NHC based on the scores of an arithmetic diagnostic test. Wood et al. (1983), based on the performance of standardized tests, concluded that hearing loss is not the direct cause of difficulties in mathematics as 15% of the participants who had profound hearing impairment performed at average and above average levels. Better performance of mainstreamed CWHI is recorded (Kluwin & Moores, 1985; Wood, Wood, Kinsmill, French, & Howarth, 1984) compared to those segregated in special schools. Differences in expectations, exposure, trained teachers, parental involvement and support services were seen as factors bringing in the difference. Meadow (1980) noticed that the learning process is slower among CWHI, though their mathematical reasoning is on par with normal hearing children. Hyde, Zevenbergen and Power (2003), who studied the performance of students with hearing impairment on arithmetic word problems, found them to perform poorly.


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Arithmetic difficulties of children with hearing impairment