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ERIC Number: EJ1054472
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Feb
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0022-0663
The Contributions of Domain-General and Numerical Factors to Third-Grade Arithmetic Skills and Mathematical Learning Disability
Cowan, Richard; Powell, Daisy
Journal of Educational Psychology, v106 n1 p214-229 Feb 2014
Explanations of the marked individual differences in elementary school mathematical achievement and mathematical learning disability (MLD or dyscalculia) have involved domain-general factors (working memory, reasoning, processing speed, and oral language) and numerical factors that include single-digit processing efficiency and multidigit skills such as number system knowledge and estimation. This study of 3rd graders (N = 258) finds both domain-general and numerical factors contribute independently to explaining variation in 3 significant arithmetic skills: basic calculation fluency, written multidigit computation, and arithmetic word problems. Estimation accuracy and number system knowledge show the strongest associations with every skill, and their contributions are independent of both each other and other factors. Different domain-general factors independently account for variation in each skill. Numeral comparison, a single digit processing skill, uniquely accounts for variation in basic calculation. Subsamples of children with MLD (at or below 10th percentile, n = 29) are compared with low achievement (LA, 11th to 25th percentiles, n = 42) and typical achievement (above 25th percentile, n = 187). Examination of these and subsets with persistent difficulties supports a multiple deficits view of number difficulties: Most children with number difficulties exhibit deficits in both domain-general and numerical factors. The only factor deficit common to all persistent MLD children is in multidigit skills. These findings indicate that many factors matter but multidigit skills matter most in 3rd grade mathematical achievement.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 3; Primary Education; Early Childhood Education; Grade 2
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Raven Progressive Matrices; Wechsler Individual Achievement Test; Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children; Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A