Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching, Mathematics



First Reader/Committee Chair

Fischman, Davida


The beauty of mathematics can arguably be found in the way in which all concepts are interrelated and interwoven to create a massive web of knowledge and in the ways this can be applied to all aspects of life and technology. Given this inextricable interrelationship amongst several mathematical topics, many students encounter issues in learning mathematics due to gaps in their understanding of previously taught material. As a result, mathematics education in the K-12 setting has emphasized the need for interventions in order to help students grasp the progressively complex concepts that are required by our current society and education system as they advance throughout their academic career. This literature review researches effective and non-effective indicators of future mathematics proficiency as an initial step towards identifying the most beneficial cognitive and non-cognitive areas of focus, and consequently early interventions, in order to support student learning especially for underperforming students. Specifically, this research synthesizes research about three essential questions: (1) What skills, conceptual understandings, or student traits can serve as possible predictors of future mathematics proficiency? (2) Which of these identified skills, conceptual understandings, or student traits are stronger predictors of future mathematics proficiency? and (3) What is the degree of accuracy of these predictors? The research was conducted through the review of articles retrieved from diverse research studies.

The literature revealed that the single most effective indicator of future mathematical proficiency is knowledge of fractions, specifically, conceptual understanding of and operations with fractions as well as fluidity with rational operations. Other less effective indicators included early knowledge of whole number division, functional numeracy, students’ attitudes and dispositions towards mathematics, gender, early mathematics achievement/ability, and literacy/linguistic ability. Other skills, conceptual understandings and student traits investigated in the relevant research included whole number arithmetic knowledge, number system knowledge, verbal & non-verbal IQ, working memory, and family education & income. These indicators did not exhibit a significant correlation to future mathematics performance and thus were classified as non-effective.