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See detailVisuo-spatial abilities are key for young children’s verbal number skills
Cornu, Véronique UL; Schiltz, Christine UL; Martin, Romain UL et al

in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology (2018), 166C

Children’s development of verbal number skills (i.e, counting abilities and knowledge of the number names) presents a milestone in mathematical development. Different factors such as visuo-spatial and ... [more ▼]

Children’s development of verbal number skills (i.e, counting abilities and knowledge of the number names) presents a milestone in mathematical development. Different factors such as visuo-spatial and verbal abilities have been discussed to contribute to the development of these foundational skills. To understand the cognitive nature of verbal number skills in young children, the present study assessed the relation of preschoolers’ verbal and visuo-spatial abilities to their verbal number skills. In total, 141 children aged between five and six years participated in the present study. Verbal number skills were regressed on vocabulary, phonological awareness and visuo-spatial abilities, as well as verbal and visuo-spatial working memory in a structural equation model. Only visuo-spatial abilities emerged as a significant predictor of verbal number skills in the estimated model. Our results suggest that visuo-spatial abilities contribute to a larger extent to children’s verbal number skills than verbal abilities. From a theoretical point of view, these results suggest a visuo-spatial, rather than a verbal, grounding of verbal number skills. These results are potentially informative for the conception of early mathematics assessments and interventions. [less ▲]

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See detailMathematical abilities in elementary school: Do they relate to number–space associations?
Georges, Carrie UL; Hoffmann, Danielle UL; Schiltz, Christine UL

in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology (2017)

Considering the importance of mathematics in Western societies, it is crucial to understand the cognitive processes involved in the acquisition of more complex mathematical skills. The current study ... [more ▼]

Considering the importance of mathematics in Western societies, it is crucial to understand the cognitive processes involved in the acquisition of more complex mathematical skills. The current study, therefore, investigated how the quality of number–space mappings on the mental number line, as indexed by the parity SNARC (spatial–numerical association of response codes) effect, relates to mathematical performances in third- and fourth-grade elementary school children. Mathematical competencies were determined using the “Heidelberger Rechentest,” a standardized German math test assessing both arithmetical and visuospatial math components. Stronger parity SNARC effects significantly related to better arithmetical but not visuospatial math abilities, albeit only in the relatively younger children. These findings highlight the importance of spatial–numerical interactions for arithmetical (as opposed to visuospatial) math skills at the fairly early stages of mathematical development. Differential relations might be explained by the reliance on problem-solving strategies involving number–space mappings only for arithmetic tasks mainly in younger children. [less ▲]

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See detailDeveloping number–space associations: SNARC effects using a color discrimination task in 5-year-olds
Hoffmann, Danielle UL; Hornung, Caroline UL; Martin, Romain UL et al

in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology (2013), 116

Human adults’ numerical representation is spatially oriented; consequently, participants are faster to respond to small/large numerals with their left/right hand, respectively, when doing a binary ... [more ▼]

Human adults’ numerical representation is spatially oriented; consequently, participants are faster to respond to small/large numerals with their left/right hand, respectively, when doing a binary classification judgment on numbers, known as the SNARC (spatial– numerical association of response codes) effect. Studies on the emergence and development of the SNARC effect remain scarce. The current study introduces an innovative new paradigm based on a simple color judgment of Arabic digits. Using this task, we found a SNARC effect in children as young as 5.5 years. In contrast, when preschool children needed to perform a magnitude judgment task necessitating exact number knowledge, the SNARC effect started to emerge only at 5.8 years. Moreover, the emergence of a magnitude SNARC but not a color SNARC was linked to proficiency with Arabic digits. Our results suggest that access to a spatially oriented approximate magnitude representation from symbolic digits emerges early in ontogenetic development. Exact magnitude judgments, on the other hand, rely on experience with Arabic digits and, thus, necessitate formal or informal schooling to give access to a spatially oriented numerical representation. [less ▲]

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