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Acuity of the approximate number system and preschoolers' quantitative development

The study assessed the relations among acuity of the inherent approximate number system (ANS), performance on measures of symbolic quantitative knowledge, and mathematics achievement for a sample of 138 (64 boys) preschoolers. The Weber fraction (a measure of ANS acuity) and associated task accuracy were significantly correlated with mathematics achievement following one year of preschool, and predicted performance on measures of children's explicit knowledge of Arabic numerals, number words, and cardinal value, controlling for age, sex, parental education, intelligence, executive control, and preliteracy knowledge. The relation between ANS acuity, as measured by the Weber fraction and task accuracy, and mathematics achievement was fully mediated by children's performance on the symbolic quantitative tasks, with knowledge of cardinal value emerging as a particularly important mediator. The overall pattern suggests that ANS acuity facilitates the early learning of symbolic quantitative knowledge and indirectly influences mathematics achievement through this knowledge. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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