Development of Numerical Estimation in Young Children


concerning this article should be addressed to either Robert S. Siegler or Julie L. Booth, Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.


Two experiments examined kindergartners', first graders', and second graders' numerical estimation, the internal representations that gave rise to the estimates, and the general hypothesis that developmental sequences within a domain tend to repeat themselves in new contexts. Development of estimation in this age range on 0-to-100 number lines followed the pattern observed previously with older children on 0-to-1,000 lines. Between kindergarten and second grade (6 and 8 years), patterns of estimates progressed from consistently logarithmic to a mixture of logarithmic and linear to a primarily linear pattern. Individual differences in number-line estimation correlated strongly with math achievement test scores, improved estimation accuracy proved attributable to increased linearity of estimates, and exposure to relevant experience tended to improve estimation accuracy.