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Developmental trajectories of children’s symbolic numerical magnitude processing skills and associated cognitive competencies

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Although symbolic numerical magnitude processing skills are key for learning arithmetic, their developmental trajectories remain unknown. Therefore, we delineated during the first 3 years of primary education (5–8 years of age) groups with distinguishable developmental trajectories of symbolic numerical magnitude processingskills using a model-based clustering approach. Three clusters were identified and were labeled as inaccurate, accurate but slow, and accurate and fast. The clusters did not differ in age, sex, socioeconomic status, or IQ. We also tested whether these clusters differed in domain-specific (nonsymbolic magnitude processing and digit identification) and domain-general (visuospatialshort-term memory, verbal working memory, and processingspeed) cognitive competencies that might contribute to children’s ability to (efficiently) process the numerical meaning of Arabic numerical symbols. We observed minor differences between clusters in these cognitive competencies except for verbal working memory for which no differences were observed. Follow-up analyses further revealed that the above-mentioned cognitive competenciesdid not merely account for the cluster differences inchildren’s development of symbolic numerical magnitude processing skills, suggesting that other factors account for these individual differences. On the other hand, the three trajectories of symbolic numerical magnitude processing revealed remarkable and stable differences in children’s arithmetic fact retrieval, which stressesthe importance of symbolic numerical magnitude processing for learning arithmetic
Journal: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology
ISSN: 0022-0965
Volume: 166
Pages: 232 - 250
Publication year:2018
Keywords:Psychology & behavioral sciences
BOF-keylabel:yes
IOF-keylabel:yes
BOF-publication weight:1
CSS-citation score:2
Authors from:Higher Education
Accessibility:Closed