Monday, April 21, 2008

Number sense can be trained. Plus Gq factor structure info

Last October I made a brief post re: the ability of number sense, an preschool skill that appears important in the development of future mathematical skill and ability development (Gq-general quantitative knowledge as per CHC theory) At that time I wondered aloud if anyone was aware of any factor analysis research of good markers of number sense abilities. This past week my prayers were least partially. Ramani and Seigler (2008) published an article in Child Development that addressed the the ability to improve number sense abilities in low-income preschool children via the playing of linear board games.

The abstract is below. The introduction provides a nice overview of the number sense literature in preschool children. Also of significant interest (to those of us working in education) was the finding that playing number board games increased number sense competencies...and...more importantly, these gains were sustained after training was completed (up to nine weeks later).

Of interest to me was the inclusion of an exploratory factor analysis of the number sense measures used in the study. The authors reported three possible number sense dimensions -- numerical magnitude, numerical identification skill, and counting skill. Currently the Gq domain in the CHC taxonomy is not well understood. Most contemporary treatments of the broad stratum II ability only lists two narrow stratum I abilities (Mathematical Knowldge, KM; Mathematical Achievement, A3). The current study suggests the Gq domain may be much more differentiated than currently understood. The three number sense factors identified in this study might represent narrow stratum I abilities in their own right, or, might represent an even narrower stratum of Gq abilities below stratum I. Only future research with a broader array of Gq variables (and other CHC ability variables) will help answer this question.

I smell some possible good dissertations.

  • Theoretical analyses of the development of numerical representations suggest that playing linear number board games should enhance young children’s numerical knowledge. Consistent with this prediction, playing such a game for roughly 1 hr increased low-income preschoolers’ (mean age 5 5.4 years) proficiency on 4 diverse numerical tasks: numerical magnitude comparison, number line estimation, counting, and numeral identification. The gains remained 9 weeks later. Classmates who played an identical game, except for the squares varying in color rather than number, did not improve on any measure. Also as predicted, home experience playing number board games correlated positively with numerical knowledge. Thus, playing number board games with children from low-income backgrounds may increase their numerical knowledge at the outset of school.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

No comments: