Get access

Numerical Magnitude Representations and Individual Differences in Children's Arithmetic Strategy Use

Authors

  • Kiran Vanbinst,

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, University of Leuven
      Kiran Vanbinst, Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, L. Vanderkelenstraat 32, Box 3765, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium; e-mail: kiran.vanbinst@ppw.kuleuven.be or Bert De Smedt, Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, L. Vanderkelenstraat 32, Box 3765, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium; e-mail: bert.desmedt@ppw.kuleuven.be
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Pol Ghesquière,

    1. Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, University of Leuven
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Bert De Smedt

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, University of Leuven
      Kiran Vanbinst, Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, L. Vanderkelenstraat 32, Box 3765, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium; e-mail: kiran.vanbinst@ppw.kuleuven.be or Bert De Smedt, Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, L. Vanderkelenstraat 32, Box 3765, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium; e-mail: bert.desmedt@ppw.kuleuven.be
    Search for more papers by this author

Kiran Vanbinst, Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, L. Vanderkelenstraat 32, Box 3765, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium; e-mail: kiran.vanbinst@ppw.kuleuven.be or Bert De Smedt, Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, L. Vanderkelenstraat 32, Box 3765, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium; e-mail: bert.desmedt@ppw.kuleuven.be

Abstract

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.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary