NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1090464
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1479-4802
Ending up with Less: The Role of Working Memory in Solving Simple Subtraction Problems with Positive and Negative Answers
Robert, Nicole D.; LeFevre, Jo-Anne
Research in Mathematics Education, v15 n2 p165-176 2013
Does solving subtraction problems with negative answers (e.g., 5-14) require different cognitive processes than solving problems with positive answers (e.g., 14-5)? In a dual-task experiment, young adults (N=39) combined subtraction with two working memory tasks, verbal memory and visual-spatial memory. All of the subtraction problems required verbal working memory but only large problems with negative answers (e.g., 8-17) required visual-spatial working memory. Small-operand problems (e.g., 5-3) required less verbal working memory than large-operand problems (e.g., 15-9). Answers to small problems were probably retrieved from memory even when the answer was negative (e.g., 3-5). In contrast, large problems with negative answers may have required participants to modify their solution procedures such that problem difficulty increased. These results indicate that even relatively simple subtraction problems can be cognitively demanding of both verbal and visual-spatial working memory, especially when solutions are not activated automatically.
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A