Can we predict mathematical learning disabilities from symbolic and non-symbolic comparison tasks in kindergarten? Findings from a longitudinal study
Article first published online: 18 NOV 2010
©2010 The British Psychological Society
British Journal of Educational Psychology
Volume 82, Issue 1, pages 64–81, March 2012
How to Cite
Desoete, A., Ceulemans, A., De Weerdt, F. and Pieters, S. (2012), Can we predict mathematical learning disabilities from symbolic and non-symbolic comparison tasks in kindergarten? Findings from a longitudinal study. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 82: 64–81. doi: 10.1348/2044-8279.002002
- Issue published online: 16 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 18 NOV 2010
- Received 31 January 2010; revised version received 13 July 2010
Background. The ability to compare numbers, as the most basic form of number sense, has been related to arithmetical achievement.
Aims. The current study addressed the predictive value of non-symbolic and symbolic (number word (NW) and Arabic number (AN)) comparison for arithmetics by means of a longitudinal design.
Sample. Sixteen children with mathematical disabilities (MD), 64 low achievers (LA), and 315 typical achieving (TA) children were followed from kindergarten till grade 2.
Method. The association of comparison skills with arithmetical skills in grades l and 2 was studied. The performances of MD, LA and TA children were compared.
Results. Regression analyses showed that non-symbolic skills in kindergarten were predictively related to arithmetical achievement 1 year later and fact retrieval 2 years later. AN comparison was predictively related to procedural calculation 2 years later. In grade 2, there was an association between both symbolic tasks and arithmetical achievement. Children with MD already had deficits in non-symbolic and symbolic AN comparison in kindergarten, whereas in grade 2 the deficits in processing symbolic information remained.
Conclusions. The combination of non-symbolic and symbolic deficits represents a risk of developing MD.