Concrete-semiconcrete-abstract (CSA) instruction: A decision rule for improving instructional efficacy

Karen A. Sealander, Gae R. Johnson, Adam B. Lockwood, Catherine M. Medina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A concrete-semiconcrete-abstract (CSA) instructional approach derived from discovery learning (DIS) was embedded in a direct instruction (DI) methodology to teach eight elementary students with math disabilities. One-minute abstractlevel probes were the primary metric used to assess student performance on subtraction problems (minuends 0-9). A single-subject, multiple-baseline across-participants design was used to identify the differential effects of discontinuing instruction at crossover (i.e., the point when the correct response rate exceeded the incorrect response rate). Results indicate that the commonly accepted practice of teaching an entire CSA unit of lessons may not be the most efficacious approach for classroom teachers. Instead, through daily data collection and application of the "crossover decision rule" (discontinue rule), teachers can selectively target those students appropriate for additional concrete- and/or semiconcretelevel instruction and those students for whom continued practice at the abstract level is more appropriate. Implications for teaching computational skills are examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-65
Number of pages13
JournalAssessment for Effective Intervention
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Data-based decision rules
  • Direct instruction
  • Instructional efficacy
  • Math disabilities
  • Subtraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • General Health Professions


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