Preschoolers and multi-digit numbers: A path to mathematics through the symbols themselves

Yuan, Lei, Prather, Richard W., Mix, Kelly S. and Smith, Linda (2019) Preschoolers and multi-digit numbers: A path to mathematics through the symbols themselves. Cognition, 189. pp. 89-104. ISSN 0010-0277

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    Numerous studies from developmental psychology have suggested that human symbolic representation of numbers is built upon the evolutionally old capacity for representing quantities that is shared with other species. Substantial research from mathematics education also supports the idea that mathematical concepts are best learned through their corresponding physical representations. We argue for an independent pathway to learning “big” multi-digit symbolic numbers that focuses on the symbol system itself. Across five experiments using both between- and within-subject designs, we asked preschoolers to identify written multi-digit numbers with their spoken names in a two-alternative-choice-test or to indicate the larger quantity between two written numbers. Results showed that preschoolers could reliably map spoken number names to written forms and compare the magnitudes of two written multi-digit numbers. Importantly, these abilities were not related to their non-symbolic representation of quantities. These findings have important implications for numerical cognition, symbolic development, teaching, and education.

    Item Type: Article
    Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
    Depositing User: LivePure Connector
    Date Deposited: 15 May 2019 16:30
    Last Modified: 15 May 2019 16:30
    DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.03.013

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