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Poor 'gut sense' of numbers contributes to persistent math difficulties
Date:6/16/2011

a wide range of other factors such as spatial reasoning or working memory. While we should not assume that all children who struggle with mathematics have a poor number sense, we should consider the possibility."

To gauge their sense of numbers, Dr. Mazzocco and colleagues tested 71 children who were previously enrolled in a 10-year longitudinal study of math achievement. The students, all in the ninth grade, completed two basic number sense tasks. In the number naming task, they were shown arrays of dots and asked to judge how many dots were present, without allowing enough time to actually count them. In the number discrimination task, the children were shown arrays of blue dots and yellow dots and asked to determine whether the blue or yellow array had more dots, again, without time to count them.

The researchers then compared the performance of four groups of students, who over the 10-year study, consistently showed having either a MLD, below average, average or above average math achievement.

Students with MLD performed significantly worse than their peers on both of the number tasks. The study findings suggest that an innate ability to approximate numbers, an intact ability present in human infants and many other species, contributes to more sophisticated math abilities later in life, while a less accurate ability underlies MLD. Additionally, the findings reveal that a poor number sense is not the only potential source of math difficulties, reinforcing that a 'one size fits all' educational approach may not be the best for helping children who struggle with math.

"A key message for parents and teachers is that children vary in the precision of their intuitive sense of numbers. We might take for granted that every child perceives numbers with roughly comparable precision, but this assumption would be false. Some students may need more practice, or different kinds of practice, to develop this number sense," Dr. Mazzocco
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Contact: Colleen Butz
cbutz@spectrumscience.com
202-955-6222
Kennedy Krieger Institute
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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