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J Learn Disabil. 2005 Jul-Aug;38(4):333-9.

Making sense of number sense: implications for children with mathematical disabilities.

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  • 1Mathematics and Science Cognition and Learning Program, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892-7510, USA.


Drawing on various approaches to the study of mathematics learning, Gersten, Jordan, and Flojo (in this issue) explore the implications of this research for identifying children at risk for developing mathematical disabilities. One of the key topics Gersten et al. consider in their review is that of "number sense." I expand on their preliminary effort by examining in detail the diverse set of components purported to be encompassed by this construct. My analysis reveals some major differences between the ways in which number sense is defined in the mathematical cognition literature and its definition in the literature in mathematics education. I also present recent empirical evidence and theoretical perspectives bearing on the importance of measuring the speed of making magnitude comparisons. Finally, I discuss how differing conceptions of number sense inform the issue of whether and to what extent it may be teachable.

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