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Front Psychol. 2013 Sep 4;4:486. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00486. eCollection 2013.

Persistent consequences of atypical early number concepts.

Author information

  • 1Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN, USA ; Center for Early Education and Development, University of Minnesota Saint Paul, MN, USA.

Abstract

How does symbolic number knowledge performance help identify young children at risk for poor mathematics achievement outcomes? In research and practice, classification of mathematics learning disability (MLD, or dyscalculia) is typically based on composite scores from broad measures of mathematics achievement. These scores do predict later math achievement levels, but do not specify the nature of math difficulties likely to emerge among students at greatest risk for long-term mathematics failure. Here we report that gaps in 2nd and 3rd graders' number knowledge predict specific types of errors made on math assessments at Grade 8. Specifically, we show that early whole number misconceptions predict slower and less accurate performance, and atypical computational errors, on Grade 8 arithmetic tests. We demonstrate that basic number misconceptions can be detected by idiosyncratic responses to number knowledge items, and that when such misconceptions are evident during primary school they persist throughout the school age years, with variable manifestation throughout development. We conclude that including specific qualitative assessments of symbolic number knowledge in primary school may provide greater specificity of the types of difficulties likely to emerge among students at risk for poor mathematics outcomes.

KEYWORDS:

dyscalculia; mathematics learning disabilities; number concepts; number sense; place value concepts; whole number knowledge

PMID:
24027540
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC3761157
Free PMC Article
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