Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Kelly, Stacy||Harris, Lindsay N.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Special education; Educational psychology


This study investigated the cognitive factors that impact the completion of mathematics problems, specifically algebraic-reasoning, by individuals who use tactile materials (i.e., braille) compared to those who use print materials. The inquiry investigated working memory, task time, cognitive load, efficiency, and the predictive quality of cognitive and noncognitive factors regarding task time. Research was conducted on college students enrolled at two midwestern universities. Participants completed an algebraic-reasoning task with cognitive load ratings, an operational span assessment, and a demographic survey that included a 12-item grit scale. Participants using tactile materials also completed a Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation assessment prior to the other three tasks. Means testing was used to compare the group using tactile materials to the control group using print materials. Significant differences were found in task time, cognitive load, and efficiency, with braille users requiring more time and cognitive resources and being less efficienct than print users when completing the algebra problems. A linear-regression model found cognitive load and grit to significantly predict task time across groups. The findings suggest that among the sample of participants included in this, study the core cognitive resources available for solving algebra problems are similar for braille and print users, but the challenge and time to complete tasks are significantly greater for braille users. Additional inquiry is recommended to discover the source of the cognitive load and increased time for individuals who use tactile materials.


Advisors: Stacy Kelly; Lindsay Harris.||Committee members: Joseph Magliano; Thomas Smith; Stephen M. Tonks.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.


149 pages




Northern Illinois University

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