Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researcher Links Storytelling And Mathematical Ability

Date:
August 2, 2004
Source:
Natural Sciences And Engineering Research Council
Summary:
Math and storytelling may seem like very different abilities, but a new study by University of Waterloo scientist Daniela O'Neill suggests that preschool children's early storytelling abilities are predictive of their mathematical ability two years later.

Math and storytelling may seem like very different abilities, but a new study by University of Waterloo scientist Daniela O'Neill suggests that preschool children's early storytelling abilities are predictive of their mathematical ability two years later. The study has just been published in the June 2004 issue of the journal First Language.

Related Articles


In the study, three-and four-year-old children were shown a book that contained only pictures and were asked to tell the story to a puppet. None of the children had seen the book before the study. The children were not prompted in any way and were free to say as much or as little about each page as they wished.

"Children were told the puppet had never heard the story before, and so this made it a fun thing for children to do. They really enjoyed telling the story to the puppet," explained O'Neill, a professor of developmental psychology.

"Having children tell the story on their own, without any adult prompting, also allowed us to better see what they were able to accomplish on their own and to get a more sensitive measure of their storytelling ability," she said.

O'Neill looked at several aspects of children's storytelling ability. Some aspects captured grammatical complexity, such as children's use of relative clauses or the length of their sentences. Other aspects involved more perspective-taking on the part of the child.

"In the story, a child brings his pet frog to a restaurant and lots of funny things happen as the frog begins to jump around and cause all sorts of mayhem," O'Neill said.

"This made it possible to see how well children were able to talk about the feelings or thoughts of the characters in the story and how well children were able to talk about the different actions of the various characters and switch clearly from talking about one character to another," she said.

Two years later, the children were brought back to the laboratory and were given a number of tests of academic achievement that included a test of mathematical achievement. What O'Neill found was that those children who scored highly on the mathematics test had also scored highly on certain measures of their storytelling ability two years earlier.

"It was only certain aspects of storytelling that were related to later mathematical ability. Most strongly predictive of children's mathematical performance was their ability to relate all the different events in the story, to shift clearly from the actions of one character to another, and to adopt the perspective of different characters and talk about what they were feeling or thinking," explained O'Neill.

This study suggests that building strong storytelling skills early in the preschool years may be helpful in preparing children for learning mathematics when they enter school.

"Almost all children experience the world of storytelling before they begin their journey into the world of mathematical thinking, and there's an intriguing possibility that providing children with experience with storytelling may later enhance their ability to tackle problems in the mathematical arena," said O'Neill.

"It is also a nice finding, I think, because storytelling is something every parent can easily do and foster with their children, without the need to buy any fancy toys or materials," said O'Neill.

Given these findings, O'Neill is continuing in further studies, also funded by Science and Engineering Research Canada, to explore more precisely what aspects of storytelling are linked to aspects of mathematical ability.

"There is a lot more to know about how these two domains of thinking are related. Both storytelling and mathematics involve many different abilities and we are trying to determine what the overlapping abilities are that might explain why being better at certain types of storytelling skills might help when tackling certain kinds of mathematical problems," O'Neill said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Natural Sciences And Engineering Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Natural Sciences And Engineering Research Council. "Researcher Links Storytelling And Mathematical Ability." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 August 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040730090426.htm>.
Natural Sciences And Engineering Research Council. (2004, August 2). Researcher Links Storytelling And Mathematical Ability. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040730090426.htm
Natural Sciences And Engineering Research Council. "Researcher Links Storytelling And Mathematical Ability." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040730090426.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Researchers gave lidocaine to 112 patients, and about 88 percent of the subjects said they needed less migraine-relief medicine the next day. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri talks about her study on the social network and the envy and depression that Facebook use can cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) People who sleep more than eight hours per night are 45 percent more likely to have a stroke, according to a University of Cambridge study. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins