## Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

# Child's counting comprehension may depend on objects counted, study shows

Date:
April 18, 2013
Source:
University of Notre Dame
Summary:
Psychologists have found that use of certain objects for counting have mixed results with preschoolers, particularly if those objects are rich in perceptual detail (bright and shiny).

Math manipulatives. It is easier for children to use objects in mathematical tasks when those objects have maximum 'bling' and minimum recognizability, according to the authors.
Credit: © Miriam Dörr / Fotolia

Concrete objects -- such as toys, tiles and blocks -- that students can touch and move around, called manipulatives, have been used to teach basic math skills since the 1980s. Use of manipulatives is based on the long-held belief that young children's thinking is strictly concrete in nature, so concrete objects are assumed to help them learn math concepts.

However, new research from the University of Notre Dame suggests that not all manipulatives are equal. The types of manipulatives may make a difference in how effectively a child learns basic counting and other basic math concepts. The study will be published in the May edition of Child Development.

University of Notre Dame Associate Professor of Psychology Nicole McNeil, who researches how children think, learn and solve problems in mathematics, together with Notre Dame graduate student Lori Petersen found that use of certain objects have mixed results with preschoolers, particularly if those objects are rich in perceptual detail (bright and shiny).

Objects that are brightly colored, unusually textured or highly dimensional may capture children's attention and help children stay focused on the given task. However, the researchers found that when children already were familiar with the objects, then these perceptually detailed objects actually hindered performance on counting tasks because they require dual representation -- they must be represented both as objects themselves and as the abstract mathematical concept they are intended to represent. When children already have established knowledge of the objects, this increased attention often is directed to the objects and their known purpose rather than to the mathematical task at hand. Conversely, when children didn't have established knowledge of the objects, perceptual richness helped performance.

"These findings suggest that it is easier for children to use objects in mathematical tasks when those objects have maximum 'bling' and minimum recognizability," McNeil said.

"More generally, these findings suggest that teachers may benefit from taking children's previous knowledge into account when deciding which materials to bring into their classrooms."

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Notre Dame. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

1. Lori A. Petersen, Nicole M. McNeil. Effects of Perceptually Rich Manipulatives on Preschoolers' Counting Performance: Established Knowledge Counts. Child Development, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12028

University of Notre Dame. "Child's counting comprehension may depend on objects counted, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418154405.htm>.
University of Notre Dame. (2013, April 18). Child's counting comprehension may depend on objects counted, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418154405.htm
University of Notre Dame. "Child's counting comprehension may depend on objects counted, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418154405.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

## More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

### Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

### Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

### Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) — Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

### Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) — A new study suggests that mixing alcohol with energy drinks makes you want to keep the party going. Video provided by Newsy
Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

### Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

AP (July 18, 2014) — Following the nationwide trend of eased restrictions on marijuana use, pot edibles are growing in popularity. One Boston-area cooking class is teaching people how to eat pot responsibly. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Understanding D.C.'s New Pot Laws

### Understanding D.C.'s New Pot Laws

Newsy (July 17, 2014) — Washington D.C.'s new laws decriminalizing small amount of marijuana went into effect Thursday. Here's how they work. Video provided by Newsy

## 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

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