ERIC Number: EJ1143838
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Jul
Abstractor: As Provided
Representations of Numerical and Non-Numerical Magnitude Both Contribute to Mathematical Competence in Children
Lourenco, Stella F.; Bonny, Justin W.
Developmental Science, v20 n4 Jul 2017
A growing body of evidence suggests that non-symbolic representations of number, which humans share with nonhuman animals, are functionally related to uniquely human mathematical thought. Other research suggesting that numerical and non-numerical magnitudes not only share analog format but also form part of a general magnitude system raises questions about whether the non-symbolic basis of mathematical thinking is unique to numerical magnitude. Here we examined this issue in 5- and 6-year-old children using comparison tasks of non-symbolic number arrays and cumulative area as well as standardized tests of math competence. One set of findings revealed that scores on both magnitude comparison tasks were modulated by ratio, consistent with shared analog format. Moreover, scores on these tasks were moderately correlated, suggesting overlap in the precision of numerical and non-numerical magnitudes, as expected under a general magnitude system. Another set of findings revealed that the precision of both types of magnitude contributed shared and unique variance to the same math measures (e.g. calculation and geometry), after accounting for age and verbal competence. These findings argue against an exclusive role for non-symbolic number in supporting early mathematical understanding. Moreover, they suggest that mathematical understanding may be rooted in a general system of magnitude representation that is not specific to numerical magnitude but that also encompasses non-numerical magnitude.
Descriptors: Mathematics Skills, Skill Development, Correlation, Task Analysis, Scores, Number Systems, Standardized Tests, Mathematics Tests, Comparative Analysis, Age Differences, Verbal Ability, Role, Mathematical Concepts, Concept Formation, Children
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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