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Pathways to Mathematics: Longitudinal Predictors of Performance


  • This research was supported by Standard Operating Grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to J. LeFevre, J. Bisanz, S. Skwarchuk, B. Smith-Chant, and D. Kamawar. We thank the many graduate student colleagues and undergraduate researchers who contributed to this research. Lori Mergulhao in Winnipeg and Nicole Vachon in Peterborough provided invaluable organizational acumen. We thank all of the children who participated for their interest and enthusiasm. We are also grateful to the teachers, principal, parents, and other school board contacts who enabled this research.

concerning this article should be addressed to Jo-Anne LeFevre, Institute of Cognitive Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada. Electronic mail may be sent to


A model of the relations among cognitive precursors, early numeracy skill, and mathematical outcomes was tested for 182 children from 4.5 to 7.5 years of age. The model integrates research from neuroimaging, clinical populations, and normal development in children and adults. It includes 3 precursor pathways: quantitative, linguistic, and spatial attention. These pathways (a) contributed independently to early numeracy skills during preschool and kindergarten and (b) related differentially to performance on a variety of mathematical outcomes 2 years later. The success of the model in accounting for performance highlights the need to understand the fundamental underlying skills that contribute to diverse forms of mathematical competence.