Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Preschoolers' grasp of numbers predicts math performance in school years; Early number sense linked to elementary math scores

Date:
September 15, 2011
Source:
Kennedy Krieger Institute
Summary:
A new study reports that the precision with which preschoolers estimate quantities, prior to any formal education in mathematics, predicts their mathematics ability in elementary school, according to researchers.

Researchers report that the precision with which preschoolers estimate quantities, prior to any formal education in mathematics, predicts their mathematics ability in elementary school.
Credit: © Ilike / Fotolia

A new study published in the online journal PLoS ONE reports that the precision with which preschoolers estimate quantities, prior to any formal education in mathematics, predicts their mathematics ability in elementary school, according to research from the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Humans have an intuitive sense of number that allows them, for example, to readily identify which of two containers has more objects without counting. This ability is present at birth, and gradually improves throughout childhood. Although it's easier to compare quantities if the amounts differ greatly (such as 30 versus 15 objects), greater precision is needed when comparing items that are much closer in number. When this ability is measured during the school age years, it correlates with mathematics achievement. However, it has been unclear until now whether this intuitive ability actually serves as a foundation for school-age math abilities.

Results of the new study show that children's ability to make numerical estimates in preschool predicted their performance on mathematical tests taken in elementary school, more than two years later. The relationship appeared to be specific to math ability, because preschool number skills did not predict other abilities, such as expressive vocabulary or the ability to quickly name objects like letters or numbers.

"Children vary widely in both their numerical and non-numerical cognitive abilities at all ages," said Dr. Michele Mazzocco, Director of the Math Skills Development Project at Kennedy Krieger Institute and lead author of the study. "Based on earlier data showing a relationship between intuitive number skills and formal mathematics, we were interested to learn whether numerical skills measured prior to schooling predict the level of mathematics skills children demonstrate years later, in a formal educational setting."

Mazzocco, along with researchers Lisa Feigenson and Justin Halberda of Johns Hopkins University, examined the performance of 17 children (7 girls, 10 boys) who had taken part in an earlier study of numerical abilities as preschoolers. At ages three and four, the children had been asked to judge which of two sets of objects, such as blue or red crayons, had more items. In this new study, researchers measured the same children's math abilities more than two years later using a standardized mathematics assessment that involved a wide range of skills like counting, reading and writing numbers, and simple arithmetic.

"It was striking to find evidence that basic number abilities at such a young age may play a role in formal math achievement," said Mazzocco. "But additional studies are needed to determine whether these skills are malleable at an early age, how they contribute to math achievement and if they are related to other known influences on math performance."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Kennedy Krieger Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michθle M. M. Mazzocco, Lisa Feigenson, Justin Halberda. Preschoolers' Precision of the Approximate Number System Predicts Later School Mathematics Performance. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (9): e23749 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023749

Cite This Page:

Kennedy Krieger Institute. "Preschoolers' grasp of numbers predicts math performance in school years; Early number sense linked to elementary math scores." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110914171751.htm>.
Kennedy Krieger Institute. (2011, September 15). Preschoolers' grasp of numbers predicts math performance in school years; Early number sense linked to elementary math scores. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110914171751.htm
Kennedy Krieger Institute. "Preschoolers' grasp of numbers predicts math performance in school years; Early number sense linked to elementary math scores." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110914171751.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — A study published in the journal "Neurology" interviewed more than 19,000 people and found 15 percent suffer from being "sleep drunk." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) — A new study found fewer deaths from prescription drug overdoses in states that have legalized medical marijuana. But experts disagree on the results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heart Group: E-Cigarettes May Help Smokers Quit

Heart Group: E-Cigarettes May Help Smokers Quit

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) — The American Heart Association's first policy statement on electronic cigarettes backs them as a last resort to help smokers quit and calls for more regulation to keep them away from youth. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Push For Later Start Times As School Year Kicks Off

Doctors Push For Later Start Times As School Year Kicks Off

Newsy (Aug. 25, 2014) — The American Academy of Pediatrics is the latest group pushing for middle schools and high schools to start later, for the sake of their kids. 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:
from the past week

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