Numerical Magnitude Representations and Individual Differences in Children's Arithmetic Strategy Use
Article first published online: 2 AUG 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2012 International Mind, Brain, and Education Society and Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
Mind, Brain, and Education
Volume 6, Issue 3, pages 129–136, September 2012
How to Cite
Vanbinst, K., Ghesquière, P. and De Smedt, B. (2012), Numerical Magnitude Representations and Individual Differences in Children's Arithmetic Strategy Use. Mind, Brain, and Education, 6: 129–136. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-228X.2012.01148.x
- Issue published online: 2 AUG 2012
- Article first published online: 2 AUG 2012
Against the background of neuroimaging studies on how the brain processes numbers, there is now converging evidence that numerical magnitude representations are crucial for successful mathematics achievement. One major drawback of this research is that it mainly investigated mathematics performance as measured through general standardized achievement tests. We extended this research by investigating the association between numerical magnitude representations and children's strategy use during single-digit arithmetic. Our findings reveal that children's symbolic but not nonsymbolic numerical magnitude processing skills are associated with individual differences in arithmetic. Children with better access to magnitude representations from symbolic digits retrieve more facts from their memory and are faster in executing fact retrieval as well as procedural strategies. These associations remain even when intellectual ability, digit naming, and general mathematics achievement are additionally controlled for. All this indicates that particularly the access to numerical meaning from Arabic symbols is key for children's arithmetic strategy development, which suggests that educators and remedial teachers should focus on connecting Arabic symbols to the quantities they represent.