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Education

Jessica Blessman wins award of excellence at EIU

Jessica Blessman (center), originally of Princeton, explains her research with those in attendance at the EIU Doudna Fine Arts Center.
Jessica Blessman (center), originally of Princeton, explains her research with those in attendance at the EIU Doudna Fine Arts Center.

CHARLESTON — Jessica (Hanna) Blessman received the 2017 King-Mertz Award of Excellence in the College of Education and Professional Studies at Eastern Illinois University (EIU) during the Distinguished Graduate Student Awards Ceremony. The event was held on April 13 at Eastern Illinois University Doudna Fine Arts Center.

The award is given to the author of the best research/creative activity project emerging from the college during the past year and reflects a significant contribution to the discipline. It is the second highest form of recognition for a research/creative activity project at (EIU).  

Blessman’s project, “Examining the Impact of Frustration Levels on Multiplication Automaticity” was nominated for the award by her math professor, Sham’ah Md-Yunus.

“I was honored to receive the award,” said Blessman. “I was surprised too. It was very cool to display my work at EIU and receive the honor.”

According to Blessman’s research paper, the purpose of this action research was to examine the effectiveness of the Rocket Math program when working to develop multiplication automaticity with third-grade students. Additionally, the study also examined which intervention, the Rocket Math app or paper and pencil, produced greater gains and how student frustration levels correlate to performance.

A total of 18 third-grade students were participants in this four-week study. A pre-test and post-test was used to establish a baseline and measure student growth during the study. Participants used the Rocket Math app and Rocket Math practice sheets throughout the study to practice multiplication facts. A student questionnaire was also used to measure and monitor student frustration levels.

It was concluded Rocket Math does help students to improve multiplication automaticity. The study also determined 89 percent of participants who used the Rocket Math app produced greater gains and experienced fewer frustrations than students who used paper and pencil to develop multiplication automaticity.

“I decided to do a study of multiplication fluency because multiplication is a huge focus in third grade,” Blessman said. “I wanted to see if times tests benefit students and which method they prefer to use when learning and mastering these facts.”

Blessman is the daughter of Gary (Rita) Hanna and Ruth Hanna, all of Princeton, and the wife of Drew Blessman. She graduated from Princeton High School in 2009 and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education in May 2013. She received her Master of Science in Elementary Education in May of 2016 from Eastern Illinois University.  

Blessman taught third grade in Arcola for three years and currently teaches third grade in Evergreen Park.

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