Thursday, November 22, 2012

What Research Shows about Counting and Number Sense

It may seem obvious that counting plays a significant role in future mathematics success.  Indeed, research confirms what parents and teachers have believed for years: it is important for children to have plenty of counting practice as part of their school readiness experiences. Jordan and colleagues (2009) examine the relationship between early number competence and mathematics achievement from kindergarten through third grade.  Examples for number competence include the ability to count, to make number comparisons and to complete calculations.  The study finds that high levels of early number competence have a positive impact on children’s mathematic achievement in later years. 

Similarly, in a three-year longitudinal study (age 5 through a mean of 8 years and 8 months), Krajewski and Schneider (2009) examine the relationship between the roles of counting and understanding quantity and mathematics achievement at the elementary level.  The authors divided understanding of numbers into two levels. Level 1 consists of basic numerical skills, or understanding number and word sequences. Level 2 consists of linking number words with quantities, including the ability to compare quantities and understand cardinality—the idea that a quantity can be represented by a number. Their findings indicate that success with level 1 topics predicts success with level 2 topics, which in turn predicts mathematics achievement in fourth grade.

Because early math competencies and understanding predict achievement in the elementary grades, bolstering preschoolers’ counting and other mathematical understandings is essential. 

Borrowed from NAEYC, Exploring Math, Spotlight on Young Children (2012).

Jordan, N.C., D. Kaplan, C. Ramineni & M.N. Locuniak. 2009. “Early Math Matters: Kindergarten Number Competence and Later Math Outcomes.” Developmental Psychology 45 (3): 850-67.

Krajewski, k. & W. Scheider. 2009. “Exploring the Impact of Phonological Awareness, Visual-Spatial Working Memory, and Preschool Quantity—Number Competencies in Mathematics Achievement in Elementary School: Findings from a 3-Year Longitudinal Study.” Journal of Experimental Psychology 103 (4): 516-31.

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