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EDUCATIONAL AND CHILD PSYCHOLOGY VOLUME 24, NUMBER 2
Guest Editors Penelope Munn Rea Reason
3 5 About the contributors Arithmetical difficulties: Developmental and instructional perspectives (extended editorial) Penny Munn & Rea Reason Strategy flexibility in children with low achievement in mathematics Lieven Verschaffel, Joke Torbeyns, Bert DeSmedt, Koen Luwel & Wim Van Doreen Early markers for arithmetic difficulties Pieter Stock, Annemie Desoete & Herbert Roeyers Assessing and teaching children who have difficulty learning arithmetic Ann Gervasoni & Peter Sullivan Assessing pupil knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers David Ellemor-Collins & Robert Wright What can intervention tell us about the development of arithmetic? Ann Dowker Investigating variability in classroom performance amongst children exhibiting difficulties with early arithmetic Jenny Houssart Language-based retrieval difficulties in arithmetic: A single case intervention study comparing two children with specific language impairment Tuire Koponen, Tuija Aro, Pekka Räsänen & Timo Ahonen Achieving new heights in Cumbria: Raising standards in early numeracy through mathematics recovery Ruth Willey, Amanda Holliday & Jim Martland Educational psychologists’ assessment of children’s arithmetic skills Susie Mackenzie Linking children’s home and school mathematics Martin Hughes, Pamela Greenhough, Wan Ching Yee, Jane Andrews, Jan Winter & Leida Salway Supporting children with gaps in their mathematical understanding: The impact of the national numeracy strategy on children who find arithmetic difficult Jean Gross
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Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2
About the contributors
Timo Ahonen is a Professor of Developmental Psychology in the Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Jane Andrews is a Senior Lecturer in Education, University of the West of England, UK. Tuija Aro is a Senior Researcher in the Niilo Mäki Institute, Jyväskylä, Finland. Bert De Smedt is a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Department of Educational Sciences of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. Annemie Desoete is a Professor in the Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Ghent, Belgium and at the Artevelde Hogeschool, Belgium. Ann Dowker is a University Research Lecturer in the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, UK. David Ellemor-Collins is a Researcher in the School of Education, Southern Cross University, Australia. Ann Gervasoni is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education, Australian Catholic University, Ballarat Campus, Australia. Pamela Greenhough is a Research Fellow in the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, UK. Jean Gross is the Director of Every Child a Reader, KPMG Foundation, UK. Amanda Holliday is a Numeracy Consultant with Cumbria County Council Children’s Services, UK. Jenny Houssart is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Education, University of London, UK. Martin Hughes is a Professor in the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, UK. Tuire Koponen is a Researcher in the Niilo Mäki Institute, Jyväskylä, Finland. Koen Luwel is a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Fund for Scientific Research, Flanders (Belgium) associated to the Department of Educational Sciences of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. Susie Mackenzie is an Educational Psychologist with Education Leeds, UK. Jim Martland is a member of the International Board of Mathematics Recovery and Director in the Mathematics Recovery Programme, UK. Penny Munn is a Reader in Education at Strathclyde University, UK. Pekka Räsänen is a Senior Researcher in the Niilo Mäki Institute, Jyväskylä, Finland. Rea Reason is a Co-Director in the Doctoral programme for Practising Educational Psychologists, School of Education, University of Manchester, UK.
Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2
Wim van Dooren is a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Fund for Scientific Research. Southern Cross University. Belgium. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Lieven Verschaffel is a Professor of Educational Sciences in the Centre for Instructional Psychology and Technology. Clayton. Belgium. Leida Salway was a Teacher-Researcher in the Graduate School of Education. Flanders (Belgium) associated to the Department of Educational Sciences of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. University of Ghent. University of Bristol. Joke Torbeyns is a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Fund for Scientific Research.About the contributors Herbert Roeyers is a Professor of Developmental Disorders in the Department of Clinical Psychology. Flanders (Belgium) associated to the Department of Educational Sciences of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. University of Bristol. Mathematics and Technology Education. UK. University of Ghent Belgium. Belgium. Belgium. Australia. Jan Winter is a Senior Lecturer in the Graduate School of Education. Robert Wright is a Professor of Education in the School of Education. UK. UK. 4 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Peter Sullivan is a Professor of Science. Australia. Ruth Willey is a Specialist Educational Psychologist with Cumbria County Council Children’s Services. Pieter Stock is a Researcher in the Department of Clinical Psychology. UK. Wang Ching Yee is a Research Fellow in the Graduate School of Education. University of Bristol. Monash University.
and the difficulties that they may encounter. and that discussion of dyscalculia should take place as part of this broader context. As outlined in this article and illustrated by the international contributions to this special issue. First and foremost. Secondary conclusions are that educational psychologists need an understanding of current theories in mathematics education and that they can usefully contribute to a growing field in the individual and social psychologies of mathematics education. the arrival in education of the term ‘dyscalculia’. Our main conclusions are that arithmetical difficulties are best understood within the framework of mathematical development. The migration of the term ‘dyscalculia’ from neuropsychology to education provides a second reason for educational psychologists to be interested. 2006).. 2001). There are a range of reasons for the growing interest in arithmetical difficulties by educational psychologists. We draw several conclusions from our overview of the research and the contributions to this issue. the initial impetus for the present issue was the publication of Primary National Strategy information that addressed the concept of ‘dyscalculia’ (DfES. entitled ‘What works for children with mathematical difficulties’ (Dowker. Overviews of the papers contributed for this special issue reveal converging views on children’s arithmetical ability. 2004). We can identify these changes as advances in psychological knowledge and research. there is a critical mass of psychological and educational research that can inform knowledge of the development of numeracy. A comprehensive DfES commissioned report.Extended editorial Arithmetical difficulties: Developmental and instructional perspectives Penny Munn & Rea Reason Abstract This introductory paper sets the scene for the special issue by outlining the research that informs our understanding of the way children learn arithmetic. They are responsible both for its direct application and for common understanding of psychology as it relates to children’s learning and development (Cameron. Dyscalculia – major difficulties 5 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 © The British Psychological Society 2007 . mathematics assessment and curriculum design. all related to changing social and educational attitudes towards numeracy problems. E DUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGISTS work in the area between psychological theory and its applications in a range of contexts. and the most effective forms of interventions for children who are struggling to learn. Farrell et al. argued that arithmetical ability was not unitary and there were vast individual differences. the combination of two research traditions – cognitive-developmental work and the psychology of maths education – provides the basis for examining children’s concepts and strategies from a constructivist standpoint. Indeed. the influence of the social context. Because of this it is both timely and relevant that we should present this collection of papers on arithmetical difficulties reflecting current research in the psychology of mathematics education. changes in education due to the implementation of the National Numeracy Strategy and increased demands of employers for numeracy. the research uses of interventions. 2006.
The cognitive strand of research is embedded in cognitive-developmental psychology and is not overly concerned with practices within maths education. in this issue) there is no doubt that the NNS emphasis on computational aspects of arithmetic has had an effect on teachers and children. 1995). Similarly. healthy. but they have not been doing this in a vacuum. Maths and numeracy are basic life skills that make a major contribution to the five outcomes of education as set out in ‘Every Child Matters’ (DfES. Nevertheless. Brown & Askew 2004). responsible citizens and effective 6 contributors) (SEED Curriculum Review Group. 2004). 1997). confident individuals. Background in educational and developmental psychology Educational psychologists already have considerable understanding of research. they have been responding to a co-ordinated international demand for numeracy skills (see. and has in some respects increased children’s abilities. 1952). Education systems around the world have been changing in the direction of increasing their emphasis on numeracy. Literacy problems have long been known to disadvantage adults in the workplace. The National Numeracy Strategy in England and Wales has had considerable impact on the way number is taught in primary schools. There have been two strands in the history of research in arithmetical difficulties. 2004): to be safe. Now we also know that adults with numeracy problems are seriously disadvantaged in the workplace (Bynner & Parsons. but his extensive work on number development was given educational interpretations by many. young children and animals in ways that were not defined by Piagetian theory (for an overview of this research see Sophian. 1996. 2006). One strand began with Skemp’s (1973) work on the psychology of maths education. which culminated in the development of an international forum for all involved in maths education research. Some Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . the ‘history’ page of the International Statistical Literacy Project 2007). the main thrust of the report was on understanding of the range of areas involved in children’s difficulties with number.Penny Munn & Rea Reason with basic number concepts – was also mentioned in this report as applicable to a small minority of learners. educational psychologists will find the papers in this special issue both important and informative. enjoying and achieving. see also Hughes et al. This strand has been concerned with the link between theory and education practice across all sectors. 2005. This apparent overthrow of Piagetian theory was followed by a comprehensive research programme that mapped the understanding of number in babies. as in the present journal issue. For all these reasons. numeracy education makes major contributions to the four major aims of the Scottish ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ (to produce successful learners. Although there is argument in some circles about its effect on mathematics education (Brown. Piaget was not an eductionalist. and on teachers’ perceptions and expectations of young childrens numeracy learning (Millet. and has been very productive (Gutierrez & Boero. which have evolved separately from each other. for an overview of its theoretical relation to Piagetian and Educational theory see Bryant. The second strand follows on from Piaget’s work on number (Piaget. This will enable them to get involved now with the practical and theoretical issues that have been raised over the past three decades in maths education and the psychology of numeracy. have economic security and make a positive contribution to the community. It has also brought into the spotlight those children who have problems with numeracy and whose difficulties need to be understood and addressed (see the contribution of Gross in this issue). We shall also argue that the time is now ripe for their active professional engagement in the practical issues that the papers raise. for instance. and was influential until it was challenged by Gelman & Gallistel’s (1978) work on counting that showed that very young children do have some grasp of the principles of number.
but it is not always clear what relevance these models have to curriculum development. the volume of research in both of these traditions of maths research has reached a critical mass where psychological and educational theories can interact. Young children draw together threads of quantitative experience and link these with growing verbal number strings as they slowly construct for themselves a rich understanding of number (for examples. Such vernacular accounts can describe children’s difficulties (as in ‘she 7 . The non-linearity of developments are evidenced by their slow pace and by the way that children construct their mathematical understanding across multiple domains. but this knowledge needs to be integrated into a framework that is concerned with extending both psychological models and educational understanding. teacher education.Editorial researchers have worked on developing the applications to maths education implicit in the cognitive-developmental tradition (for example. rather than focusing on the computation procedures themselves. It emphasises the modelling and reasoning that underlies arithmetical performance. The maths education research. by contrast. (i) There has been a decisive shift away from behaviourist accounts and a wholesale adoption in the psychology of maths education community of constructivist theories to explain development and learning in mathematics. but does not always contribute directly to a psychological model of children’s number development. (Mulligan & Vergnaud 2006) These characteristics mean that maths education research can offer a coherent theoretical framework that links to practice. since the high reliability and low validity involved in experimentation make it hard to apply such research directly to educational practice. (ii)Current research emphasises the simultaneous development of additive and multiplicative structures. 1989). teacher education and classroom practice. The converse of this is that the latter type of findings usually have much clearer implications for theoretical developments. can usefully begin to get involved in the point at which bridges between theory and practice can form. Busbridge & Womack. (iii)The future direction of research in the psychology of maths education is theoretically driven. We now know a great deal about arithmetical development in childhood. 1988). The cognitive developmental research produces information that adds to our knowledge of psychological models of number development. While most educational psychologists will know the cognitive-developmental work on number. produces information that adds to our understanding of curriculum development. 1991). It is at this point that educational psychologists. Now. the applications of experimental cognitive research to education are almost a research field in their own right. It may help here to summarise the main ways in which the field of maths education research (as it applies to young children) has developed since the early days of Skemp (1973). Resnick. who have considerable research skills. By ‘vernacular’ we mean the account that is implicit in the layout of many guides for (non maths specialist) teachers. This has resulted in the two strands of research having markedly different characteristics. the uniting factor is that the implication of findings for educational practice is much clearer than is the case for findings derived from cognitive developmental research. The complexity of mathematical understanding in childhood contrasts starkly with vernacular accounts of arithmetical development. The framework linking maths education studies is one that takes practical utility as its Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 first priority. However. they may not be so familiar with the work on the psychology of maths education. and theory and practice can inform each other. (see for instance Biggs & Sutton. 1983. One thing that is clear from both educational and psychological frameworks is that arithmetical development in children is non-linear and multidimensional. or classroom practice. see Fuson.
Gervasoni and Sullivan.Penny Munn & Rea Reason cannot remember number bonds within ten’) but they are not helpful in remedying such difficulties because they are devoid of both theory and explanation. for the full development of their mathematical ability. The second group of papers shows how we can use intervention to increase knowledge of arithmetical difficulties. and that we should therefore make sure that classrooms make complex and challenging demands from the earliest school years even of children who seem to be low in ability. Ann Dowker outlines the nine components within the Numeracy Recovery Scheme and her appendices include much detail that can be of immediate relevance to practice. Desforges & Mitchell. or strategy flexibility. and on the implications of this for approaches to arithmetical difficulties. The papers that were contributed to this special edition form a wealth of description that shows both how much psychological approaches have achieved in the teaching 8 . 1996). Vershaffel et al. To illustrate this. Stock. discuss the importance of children’s adaptivity. The success of such discourse and organisation will be essential if teachers are to replace their intuitive descriptions of children’s arithmetical difficulties with analyses that reflect the complexity of mathematical development and the recent growth in psycho-educational theories. The third group of papers shows how psychology can contribute to our understanding of the social contexts of arithmetical difficulties. The findings show that it is Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Contributions to this issue From an initial call for papers we have selected 11 papers that represent excellence in the application of psychological theory to the field of arithmetical difficulty. For example. Many inspired maths educators have struggled to upgrade the vernacular account by contributing a discourse of mathematics education to the primary sector (see for instance Clemson & Clemson. Hughes. By then it will be too late. The first group of papers illustrates the deep psychological understanding of the complexity of children’s arithmetical ability that is current in the literature. They warn that such challenge cannot be added in to the curriculum once children have learned ‘the basics’. Gervasoni and Sullivan have illustrations within their framework of growth points that include creative use of concrete materials. and learning of arithmetic. Papers illustrating the inherent complexity of children’s arithmetical ability Four of the papers describe the complexity of arithmetical learning in the primary school. Ellemor-Collins and Wright give detailed illustrations of their four groups of assessment tasks that one of the editors was able to use immediately in her own assessments and suggestions for intervention. we have grouped the papers into three thematic groups. Most of the other papers also contain information and appendices with illustrations of the materials being used. Desoete and Roeyers’ work is aimed at discovering whether we can find precursors of arithmetical difficulties while children are in preschool. 2000). Desoete and Roeyers. and articulate a profound understanding of the ways in which children’s arithmetical ‘ability’ can be understood. One very practical aspect of most of these papers is that the concrete examples in the papers provide suggestions for educational psychologists as to the kinds of assessments and interventions they can apply within their daily practice. They compare the predictive power of variations in mathematical reasoning with variations in subitising ability. and Ellemor-Collins and Wright all focus in very different ways on the complexity of children’s arithmetical ability. and how much they still have to contribute. Stock. Others have directed their attempts at the social organisation of maths teaching across the school (see for instance Atkinson.. and children will already have lost the opportunity to develop adaptivity. They argue that such adaptivity might arise from children’s perceptions of classroom demands. Verschaffel et al. 1994.
Willey. She shows how arithmetical difficulties can be ameliorated and then uses the results of the intervention to analyse for predictors of improvement among the multiple components. They find that many pupils have not developed the strategy of jumping by tens and may therefore not use sequence-based understanding such as recognising that number sequences 8. Papers illustrating how intervention can increase our understanding In this group of papers. what makes this contribution particularly relevant in this issue is that the focus is not on testing but on the response of the children to intervention over a period of some two months. Her account of low ability children’s daily struggle with number highlights the dayto-day variability in what they appear able to do. They also to chart the effect of the intervention on teaching and 9 . The paper recommends that these pupils’ number learning should include a focus on number word sequences. she shows how this variabilty can be seen as evidence of complexity in learning. However. but dependent on being able to take advantage of a range of experiences in that domain. Gervasoni & Sullivan conclude that there is no single ‘formula’ for describing children who have difficulty learning arithmetic or for describing the instructional needs of this diverse group of children. conclusions about how we understand developmental progressions. 38 are always ten steps apart. Rather. skip counting and incrementing by tens and locating numbers in the range of 1–100 on a number line.Editorial children’s number logic (their mathematical reasoning) that gives the better prediction from preschool number knowledge across the transition into school. it is complex even at the beginning of education. 18. because a child has difficulty with one aspect of number learning. and brings this neglected aspect of classroom learning into theoretical perspective. They argue explicitly that programmes need to include all number domains in tandem (addition. Holliday & Martland’s account of Maths Recovery in Cumbria documents the effects of this programme on children’s conceptual development. since it challenges basic teaching principles. subtraction. The authors use this response to elaborate theories of the relation between language and arithmetic development. and reasoned programmes of intervention for the lowest achieving children. we have three contributions that offer incisive analysis of children’s responses to mathematical situaEducational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 tions. has a more clinical flavour in that they compare the performances of two children considered to have specific language impairment. Her findings support the view that arithmetic is made up of multiple components that are relatively independent of each other. The contribution of Koponen et al. Dowker’s account of ‘numeracy recovery’ gives finely analysed detail of which aspects of her intervention were effective. She shows how her results add to our understanding of arithmetical difficulties. other areas will also be problematic. One should not assume that. The practical relevance of their study supports the theoretical message that complexity in number learning should be respected even when intervening in the upper primary age groups. multiplication and division) as children’s construction of number knowledge in a specific domain is not dependent on prerequisite knowledge in another domain. 28. Ellemor-Collins & Wright examine the strategies of ‘lower-attaining’ learners aged eight to ten years. The thread that unites all these papers is their use of intervention to increase our understanding of arithmetical difficulties by adding to psychological theory. Houssart uses her position as researcher to reinterpret an aspect of behaviour that is troubling to teachers and often ignored by theoreticians. However. This result supports the view that there is not an elementary ‘building block’ from which arithmetical ability is fashioned. Houssart comments that this variability is seen as a problem in teaching.
She argues strongly against the effect that widespread use of such a term would have of taking responsiblity for low attaining children out of the teacher’s day-to-day classroom management. One such theme is the importance of nonlinearity in curriculum design. Their account brings out-of-school settings into a story about how children establish the purposes of their learning. One should also not assume that. her views on how educational psychologists might use the available tools in an interactive way. However. They also demonstrate that the interventions themselves can in turn contribute to theory. All of these papers demonstrate the unique strengths that psychological theories have in helping teachers and other professionals to understand and intervene in arithmetical difficulties. MacKenzie reviews the assessment tools and approaches that are available to educational psychologists. using their skills in observation. Hughes et al. This inclusion of the changes in teachers in a story about cognitive change in children is a valuable contribution to theory and extends our understanding of the role of maths teaching discourse in children’s development. This perspective includes children’s beliefs and experiences concerning arithmetic.Penny Munn & Rea Reason support staff. However. guiding principles. but they also indicate that there are ways in which educational psychology can be used to better understand and manage these out-of-class contexts. not to take poorly performing children out of the classroom teacher’s remit and make them somebody Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Gross’s account of how lower attaining pupils have not benefitted from the National Numeracy Strategy includes an analysis of the use of diagnostic labels such as ‘dyscalculia’ within the classroom ecology. We also find a thread running through many of the papers that urges us not to take precipitate decisions that limit the scope of early maths teaching. In particular. emphasises the role that the practitioner’s constructs play in their view of children’s abilities. and makes an important contribution to the attitudes that children bring into class. They show that out-of-school maths has an emotional significance that is lacking in school maths. as well as the beliefs. These papers each tell an interesting story of their own. there are common themes that cross the boundaries of these groups. yet is often found in children’s 10 spontaneous activities at home. their discussion of parental dilemmas over styles of calculation produces a pragmatic solution that should become part of every school’s numeracy curriculum. The authors suggest that assessment of maths ability should routinely include these out-of-school activities. We have made three broad groupings of these papers for our own convenience in explaining how these authors can collectively take us forward in our understanding of psychology’s role in maths education. other areas will also be problematic. because a child has difficulty with one aspect of number learning.’s account of out-of-school mathematics highlights the issue of ‘authenticity’ in mathematical activity – a characteristic that is extremely difficult to build into school maths activities. and educational principles that education professionals bring to the class. That is. Her analyses inform our understanding of how policy contexts can shape the experiences of children with arithmetical difficulties. concluding that because it inspires the teachers to work from principles rather than prescription. the curriculum should not be designed in a heavy-handed ‘lock-step’ principle. the programme has an impact on the teachers’ beliefs about maths teaching and learning as well as on their confidence in teaching number. in which supposedly simple aspects of maths are followed by supposedly complex aspects. Papers illustrating the social psychological contexts of arithmetic difficulties In this group of papers there is a common thread that illustrates the wider social psychological perspective on arithmetic difficulties. and notes the dearth of tools compared with those available for reading.
Children need to reach this cognitive stage before they can grasp elements of the more advanced primary curriculum such as fractions. ● Initial number stage: At this stage children have acquired an adult-like understanding of number. it is not everything. (Steffe et al. ● Perceptual number stage: At this stage. which has outlined a clear progression in number concepts as they relate to mathematical activity. There is much variability in the length of time that children take to reach this stage. They can’t yet operate with cardinal numbers. All of these threads are drawn from current psychological understanding of arithmetic learning as a part of mathematics education. ● Figurative number stage: At this stage children seem to be able to deal with screened addition. Until children have reached the Initial Number stage they cannot grasp the mathematical nature of operations such as addition or subtraction and the formal written curriculum is lost on them. written number symbols and number operations. Many of the papers implicitly point out that if educators behave as though computation is all that matters. about number. Thus. 1983. children are just beginning to construct the counting sequence and are still developing one-to-one correspondence in counting. All of the papers address this theme in one way or another and all conclude that while computation may be important. and being taught. This progression has a ‘step’ function in that movement from one stage to the next involves cognitive restructuring rather than a slow accretion of knowledge. there are many descriptions of changes in strategy as children age but no real account of the subjective experiences that must drive this sequence of development. by contrast. we should not be surprised if children respond by only learning how to calculate. has used clinical interviewing techniques to produce a constructivist account of children’s typical journey through phases of number understanding (see. Many of the papers in this issue draw on Steffe’s research. and become able to focus on the relation between numbers. There is a further theme that echoes longstanding tensions over the differences between ‘mathematics’ and ‘computation’. but they are using a ‘number sequence’ logic to achieve this. and are able to comprehend number symbols and operations such as addition and subtraction. because they can work with visible quantities. Maths education research.Editorial else’s responsibility. Between the ages of roughly three and seven. and there are a number of sources 11 Developmental progressions in number Psychological models of number understanding are a combination of behaviourist and cognitivist description that somehow manage to exclude children’s own subjective experience of learning. for instance. In the classroom. and on the relation between operations. children can only deal with adding together quantities that are visible. Children need to reach this cognitive stage before they can grasp the elements of the formal number curriculum – cardinal number. 1986). and not to allow mechanical use of assessments to override our intuitions and direct experiences of children’s maths learning. In the classroom they look as though they understand early maths operations because they can use ordinal strategies to work with hidden quantities. 2000). most children pass through the following five broad stages in understanding arithmetical operations: ● Emergent number stage : At this stage.. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . It takes children several years to grow from the emergent to the facile stage. they look as though they understand early maths operations.. ● Facile number stage: At this stage children are developing higher-order number concepts. ratio and percentages. Wright et al. Steffe & Cobb.
2005). and progress is not linear. As stated in a document published by the Department for Education and Skills (2001). One area of evidence points to problems with short term or working memory (Geary & Hoard. and Dowker. This view suggests that psychologists should assess exactly what children can or cannot do and plan appropriate interventions according to these assessments. 2006). 2003. then it is possible for children to develop conceptual understanding in some domains that compensate for slower progress in others. language and symbolic representations of numbers develop interdependently. they actively construct it and reconstruct it as they learn it. suggesting that various areas of the brain work together to develop number understanding. In the present issue. On a practical level. 2001) that might indeed explain why children struggling with basic literacy may also struggle with basic arithmetic. Gervasoni and Sullivan. ing number facts and procedures. Within the progression outlined above. contributions in this volume. Gifford (2005) concluded that ‘an innate ability to apprehend precise numbers is unconfirmed and unlikely’ (p. Visualisation. This active construction has theoretical and practical implications. dyscalculic learners may have difficulty understanding simple number concepts.. argue that specific difficulty in retrieving verbal material and in forming verbal associations seems Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Implications of developmental progressions in number for the concept of dyscalculia The term ‘dyscalculia’ implies that there can be problems of a neurological origin affecting very basic capacity for understanding numbers (Butterworth. and present day research has given us a good understanding of why this is so. The papers by Willey et al. However. That is. Piaget long ago pointed out that children’s number word string constructions do not necessarily co-incide with their number concepts. and by Wright et al. Difficulties with one aspect of number learning do not necessarily imply that other areas will also be problematic. The true picture is probably much more complex. children’s number word sequences provide a window onto the developmental pathways they are taking towards the Initial Number Stage. show us the dangers inherent in assuming that such a ‘blockage’ is an insurmountable barrier to children’s progression to higher order mathematical thinking. On the theoretical level. at which number words become associated with cardinal meaning. 37). If arithmetical understanding is made up of multiple components. Such an approach would look very different from one in which psychologists use a diagnostic label that has poorly articulated assumptions about the implications for intervention.Penny Munn & Rea Reason of this variability (Ridler-Williams. motor control. Munn. illustrate this approach. children do not passively replicate the number word sequence and store it in memory. and can extend the practitioner’s understanding of the individual path that a particular child with difficulties is treading towards cardinal understanding or points beyond it. such as those by Verschaffel et al. lack an intuitive grasp of numbers and have problems learn12 . There will also be more than one route to mathematical understanding. In her extensive review of the concept of dyscalculia. dyscalculia may be theorised as some kind of ‘blockage’ at the perceptual and figurative stages of number construction that prevents children from moving on to operate within the later conceptual stages. they have also created a rich understanding of the ways in which children construct the verbal string of number words. Koponen et al. While educational theorists have been describing the delicate and complex stages that children pass through to understand number. it provides the understanding that children’s errors in the number word are never accidental. Fuson (1988) and Wright (1994) have done the most detailed research on this aspect of development. and both describe an active construction of the learned number word sequence.
that because the traditional UK number curriculum moves rapidly into number operations in the first year. it is developmentally inappropriate for a significant proportion of children in the first year of school. for example. The ‘curriculum as product’ approach is derived from early twentieth century scientific managerialism. Ridler-Wiliams (2003). such children will continue to be left behind because they are constructing the arithmetical problems presented to them in radically different ways from their more successful classmates. these would be experienced very differently by children at different stages of mathematical understanding. The papers in this issue provide strong support for a curriculum that sets out to develop the individual rather than to deliver specified content or deliver mathematical ‘products’. Even if it were possible to specify objectively maths curricula that ‘delivered’ specific outcomes. their beliefs about number lessons as a species of guessing game or rote-learned procedures clearly function to protect their concepts of themselves as learners. Kelly (2004) outlined three different approaches to the curriculum. Often. Gross also critiques medicaldiagnostic models and argues convincingly for the importance of developing effective strategies that involve a teaching and learning response rather than debates about cognitive causation. It can be argued. This factor means that screening tests claiming to reflect the neurological basis of arithmetical difficulties should be interpreted in the context of all other aspects of the child’s symbolic activity. found that a large proportion of Scottish schoolchildren had not progressed to the ‘Initial Number Sequence’ by the end of their first year at school and were therefore not truly comprehending the number operations they had been taught. The ‘curriculum as process’ approach is derived from child-centred education and views education as the development of the individual. educational psychologists are well placed to become involved in these areas both as practitioners and as theoreticians. Follow-up study of these same children (Munn. for instance. Children Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Conclusion The emphasis of this journal issue is on informing educational psychologists and their colleagues about current research regarding children’s number learning. However. The ‘curriculum as content’ approach privileges certain areas of knowledge and views education as the transmission of cultural knowledge.Editorial to be connected in the ability to learn arithmetical facts. 2006) highlights the effect that their experiences of the number curriculum can have on their beliefs about the nature of mathematics. whose number development is not well synchronised with classroom demands can develop a range of beliefs that locate arithmetical logic beyond the range of their own thought processes. A focus on learning opportunities There may be purely experiential reasons for children becoming ‘stuck’ in their number understanding and resembling those at earlier stages of development. and views education as the effective delivery of specified objectives. In our view. or gaps in understanding. that can lead to advice about appropriate interventions. the multiple sensory and symbolic pathways that children use to encode mathematical experiences mean that there is probably considerable plasticity in the neurological developments that underpin the growth of number understanding. the variability of that learning and the approaches available to develop the strategies and understandings of those children that struggle with the learning. Without appropriate intervention. MacKenzie (in this issue) argues that screening tests focussing on any particular cognitive area such as subitising do not have ecological validity in relation to the way a child uses number in everyday life and do not necessarily provide clues as to the nature of the child’s actual computational difficulties. We feel strongly that they should grasp this opportu13 .
Penny Munn & Rea Reason nity and avoid a precipitate narrowing of their focus to arguments about labels for arithmetical difficulties. Current research in the psychology of mathematical and arithmetical development is rightly concerned with computational processes, but there is considerable scope for the development of a social psychology of maths education. This would encompass the psychological study of the communicative and discursive contexts (at home and at school) in which mathematical thinking develops. Here too we think that educational psychologists could contribute worthwhile practitioner research on the social and individual psychology of arithmetical difficulties.
Address for correspondence
Atkinson, S. (1996). Developing a Scheme of Work for Primary Mathematics. Avon: Hodder & Stoughton. Biggs, E. & Sutton, J. (1983). Teaching Mathematics 5–9, A classroom guide. London: McGraw Hill. Brown, M. (2005). The role of mathematics education research in influencing educational policy. (Closing Plenary) Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education. Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Spain, 2005. Butterworth, B. (2005). Developmental dyscalculia. In J.I.D. Campbell (Ed.), Handbook of mathematical cognition. New York: Psychology Press. Busbridge, J. & Womack, D. (1991). Effective Maths Teaching. Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes. Bryant, P. (1995). Children and arithmetic. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 36(1), 3–32. Bynner, J. & Parsons, S. (1997). Does numeracy matter? London: The Basic Skills Agency. Cameron, R.J. (2006). Educational psychology: The distinctive contribution. Educational Psychology in Practice, 22(4), 289–304. Clemson, D. & Clemson, W. (1994). Mathematics in the Early Years. London: Routledge. Department for Education and Skills (2001). Guidance to support pupils with dyslexia and dyscalculia (Ref: DfES 0512/2001). Nottingham: DfES Publications. Department for Education and Skills (2004). Every Child Matters: Change for Children. Nottingham: DfES Publications. Dowker, A. (2004). What works for children with mathematical difficulties? Research Report 554, Department for Education and Skills. Nottingham: DfES Publications. Farrell, P., Woods, K., Lewis, S., Rooney, S., Squires, G. & O’Connors, M. (2006). A review of the functions and contribution of educational psychologists in England and Wales in the light of ‘Every Child Matters: Change for Children’. Research Report 792, Department for Education and Skills. Nottingham: DfES Publications. Fuson, K (1988). Children’s Counting and Concepts of Number. Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview of Different Uses of Number Words. NY: SpringerVerlag. Geary, D.C. & Hoard, M.K. (2001). Numerical and arithmetical deficits in learning-disabled children: Relation to Dyscalculia and dyslexia. Aphasiology, 15(7), 635–647. Gelman & Gallistel (1978). The Child’s Understanding of Number. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Gifford, S. (2005). Young children’s difficulties in learning mathematics: Review of research in relation to dyscalculia. Qualifications and Curriculum Authority: www.qca.org.uk/13809.html. Gutierrez, A. & Boero, P. (2006). Introduction. In A. Gutierrez, & P. Boero (Eds.), Handbook of Research on the Psychology of Mathematics Education: PME 1976–2006. (pp. 117–146) Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Hughes, M., Desforges, C. & Mitchell, C., with Carre, C. (2000). Numeracy and Beyond. Buckingham: OU Press. International Statistical Literacy Project (2007). History of the ISLP and the World Numeracy Project 1994–2006. http://www.stat.aukland.ac.nz/~iase/islp/hist. Kelly, A.V. (2004). Curriculum: Theory and Practice. London: PCP Sage. Millet, A., Brown, M. & Askew, M. (Eds.), (2004). Primary Mathematics and the Developing Professional: Multiple Perspectives on Attainment in Numeracy. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Mulligan, J. & Vergnaud, G. (2006). Research on Children’s Early Mathematical Development. In A. Gutierrez, & P. Boero (Eds.), Handbook of Research on the Psychology of Mathematics Education: PME 1976–2006. (pp 117–146) Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Munn, P. (2006). Mathematics in early childhood – the early years maths curriculum in the UK and children’s numerical development. International Journal of Early Childhood, 38(1), 99–112. Piaget, J. (1952). The child’s conception of number. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
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Resnick, L.B. (1989). Developing Mathematics Knowledge. American Psychologist, 44(2), 162–169. Ridler-Williams, C. (2003). Is Children’s Numeracy Development related to Communication in the Classroom? Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Strathclyde. SEED Curriculum Review Group (2004). Purposes and Principles for the Curriculum 3–18. SEED Publications. Skemp (1973). The Psychology of Learning Mathematics. Penguin. Sophian, C. (1996). Children’s Numbers. Harper-Collins. Steffe, L. & Cobb, P. (with E. von Glaserfeld) (1988). Construction of Arithmetic Meanings and Strategies. New York: Springer-Verlag. Steffe, L., von Glaserfeld, E., Richards, J. & Cobb, P. (1983). Children’s Counting Types: Philosophy, Theory and Application. New York: Praeger Scientific. Wright, R.J. (1994). A Study of the Numerical development of 5 year olds and 6 year olds. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 26, 25–44. Wright, R., Martland, J. & Stafford, A. (2000). Early Numeracy: Assessment for Teaching and Intervention. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.
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Strategy flexibility in children with low achievement in mathematics
Lieven Verschaffel, Joke Torbeyns, Bert De Smedt, Koen Luwel & Wim Van Dooren
Instructional psychologists and mathematics educators have for a long time emphasised the educational importance of recognising and stimulating flexibility in children’s self-constructed strategies as a major pillar of their innovative approaches to (elementary) mathematics education and have designed and implemented instructional materials and interventions aimed at the development of such flexibility. Especially in many curriculum reform documents from the last two decades as well as in many innovative curricula, textbooks, software, etc., there is a basic belief in the feasibility and educational value of striving for strategy flexibility, also for the younger and mathematically weaker children. However, systematic and scrutinised research that convincingly supports these basic claims is still rather scarce. In this contribution, we reflect on the flexible or adaptive choice and use of solution strategies in elementary school arithmetic. In the first part of this article we give some conceptual and methodological reflections on the adaptivity issue. More specifically, we critically review definitions and operationalisations of strategy adaptivity that only take into account task and subject characteristics and we argue for a concept and an approach that also involve the sociocultural context. Second, we address the question whether strategic flexibility is a parameter of strategic competence that differentiates mathematically strong and weak children. Finally, we discuss whether aiming for strategy flexibility is a feasible and valuable goal for all children, including the younger and mathematically weaker and weakest ones.
NSTRUCTIONAL PSYCHOLOGISTS and mathematics educators have for a long time emphasised the educational importance of recognising and stimulating flexibility in children’s self-constructed strategies as a major pillar of their innovative approaches to (elementary) mathematics education and have designed and implemented instructional materials and interventions aimed at the development of such flexibility (see e.g. Brownell, 1945; Freudenthal, 1991; Thompson, 1999; Wittmann & Müller, 1990–1992). Especially in many curriculum reform documents from the end of the previous century, such as the Curriculum and evaluation standards for school mathematics of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in the US (1989, 2000), the Numeracy Strategy in the UK (DfEE, 1999), the Proeve van een Nationaal Programma voor het Reken/wiskundeonderwijs
in The Netherlands (Treffers, De Moor & Feijs, 1990), the Handbuch Produktiver Rechenübungen in Germany (Wittmann & Müller, 1990), and the Ontwikkelingsdoelen en Eindtermen for elementary education in Flanders (1998), as well as in many innovative curricula, textbooks, software, and other instructional materials based on these reform documents, there is a basic belief in the feasibility and educational value of striving for strategy flexibility, also for the younger and mathematically weaker children (Baroody et al., 2003; Kilpatrick, Swafford & Findell, 2001; Verschaffel, Greer & De Corte, in press). However, systematic and scrutinised research that convincingly supports these basic claims is still rather scarce. In this contribution, we reflect on the flexible or adaptive1 choice and use of solution strategies in elementary school arithmetic. First, we present and discuss difEducational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 © The British Psychological Society 2007
submitted). More frequently. 47 15 . 2 The 1010 procedure involves splitting off the tens and the units in both integers and handling them separately (e. including the younger and mathematically weaker and weakest ones. they then define certain ‘problem type strategy type combinations’ as flexible and others as not.. For example.. Second. p. based on an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of these different strategies vis-à-vis certain types of problems3.Strategy flexibility in children with low achievement in mathematics ferent conceptions and operationalisations of strategy flexibility. on the one hand. In the textbook for Grade 1 children are taught three different strategies for doing additions with sums between 10 and 20: (a) the retrieval strategy (e. one can switch smoothly between different strategies in a completely arbitrary and random way while. (b) the tie strategy (e. and (c) the decomposition-to-ten strategy (e. Luwel.. 47 15 . on the other hand. or of a combination of both kinds of analysis.g. of an empirical analysis of the accuracy data from large groups of students for the different (types of) problems.g. we will use both terms as synonyms. Finally. Exactly the same definition is used by Blöte Van der Burg. Conceptions and operationalisations of strategy flexibility/adaptivity Strategy flexibility or adaptivity is sometimes defined and operationalised as using a variety of solution strategies. 2002). and. 40 10 50. 57 5 62). After all.g. these authors first distinguish different strategies for doing additions and subtractions.. the consistent use of one single strategy for a whole series of arithmetic tasks may sometimes be more adaptive than switching between a diversity of strategies available in one’s repertoire (Verschaffel et al.g. 80) defines it as follows: ‘Flexibility in strategy use involves the flexible adaptation of one’s solution procedures to task characteristics’. Heirdsfield & Cooper. Although the availability of a variety of strategies and the ability to switch smoothly between these strategies can be considered an essential stepping-stone towards flexibility. as we have explained elsewhere (Verschaffel. Thompson (1999. In a similar way. although. solving 6 7 by doing 6 6 1). Van der Heijden (1993. and Klein (2001). we address the question whether strategic flexibility is a parameter of strategic competence that differentiates mathematically strong and weak children. 147) concurs in his plea for developing flexibility in elementary school arithmetic that ‘mental calculation places great emphasis on the need to select an appropriate computational strategy for the actual numbers in the problem’. submitted). knowing by heart that 6 6 12). p. we discuss whether aiming for strategy flexibility is a feasible and valuable goal for all children. 3 This analysis consists of a purely rational task analysis (wherein the procedural and conceptual complexities of the different strategies are compared). 50 12 62). submitted). without any further qualification (e. 47 10 57. respectively. strategy flexibility or adaptivity has been defined and operationalised in relation to certain task characteris- For the sake of simplicity. additions and subtractions in the number domain up to 1002. the mere use of different solution strategies on a series of similar mathematical items or problems – without any attention to the efficiency of these strategy choices – can hardly be considered as evidence of adaptivity. some authors define both terms (slightly) differently. So.. 1 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 17 .g. Torbeyns & Van Dooren. on the other hand. He operationalised strategy flexibility by analysing whether children systematically use the 1010-procedure and the G10-procedure for. tics. 2002). requires the child to add or subtract the tens and the units of the second integer to/from the first unsplit integer (e. As we have illustrated elsewhere (see Verschaffel et al. this view on flexible or adaptive strategy use is also found in many (so-called) reformbased textbooks. The application of the G10 procedure. such as the first year’s pupils’ book of a Flemish textbook series Nieuwe Reken Raak (Bourdeaud’hui et al. 7 5 12.g.
studies within the sociocultural view suggest that people may switch flexibly/adaptively between arithmetic strategies depending on not only task and subject variables. the strategy choice process that the above-mentioned authors call flexible/ adaptive may become inflexible/inadaptive. in comparison to other concurrent strategies available in the child’s repertoire. are subject variables. 6 6 ). 2004). and wise’. More recent theoretical developments. Simultaneously. Arnaud. see also Torbeyns. wherein affordances inherent in the task have to be considered in relation to. features of the individual who is solving the task. Irrefutably. Hereafter. as the system also awards ‘novely points’ to newly discovered strategies. A first additional set of factors. and vice versa. More particularly. adaptive. Siegler’s computer model of how children’s mastery of simple arithmetic sums develops. This knowledge may also guide one’s strategy choices at an explicit or implicit level. Relying on the scarce theoretical and empirical sociocultural literature. 2000). (b) the tie strategy for near-tie sums (e. Indeed. 1996. children learn to link each strategy to a particular type of sum over ten for which that strategy is considered most efficient: (a) the retrieval strategy for tie sums (e. 2000. 1996. Siegler. In other words. The idea of classroom situations Actually. besides task variables. especially how well (s)he masters the distinct strategies. solving 6 7 by doing 6 4 3).g. in our view. 6 8 or 3 9 ). 492) shows that. Ellis (1997. Siegler. 1998. retrieval or an extensive counting strategy or a shortcut counting strategy) is chosen to solve a particular item by a particular child depends basically on how accurately and how fast that strategy is executed for that particular item and by that particular child. SCADS always tends to select and apply the strategy that produces the most beneficial combination of speed and accuracy for a particular sum (on the basis of the accumulated data regarding speed and accuracy available in the system’s data base)4. This could be interpreted as a (first) attempt to include also a context variable into the (computer) model.g. Lemaire & Verschaffel. 6 7 or 8 7 ) and (c) the decomposition-to-ten strategy for all other sums over ten (e. especially the rise of the sociocultural perspective. with age and experience. we consider two other groups of factors that need to be incorporated into a more genuine concept of flexibility/adaptivity. the Strategy Choice and Discovery Simulation (SCADS). for a particular subject and/or under particular circumstances. have revealed that the issue of flexibility/adaptivity is even more complicated than is suggested by cognitive (computer) models such as the one by Siegler and his colleagues (Shrager & Siegler.Lieven Verschaffel et al. the adaptivity concept underlying this computer model – which claims to be an accurate simulation of how ‘real’ children make strategy choices and develop new strategies in the domain of elementary arithmetic – reflects a more complex and more subtle view on the strategy choice process. it remains. the selection mechanism is somewhat more sophisticated. which has been intensively and systematically investigated and modeled by cognitive psychologists such as Siegler and his associates (Shrager & Siegler. and balanced with. children develop (implicit) knowledge regarding ‘what a given culture defines as appropriate. namely subject and context variables.g. p.g. 1998. Although this conception and operationalisation of flexibility/adaptivity can already be considered as more sophisticated than the first one. highly problematic to define and operationalise strategy flexibility/ adaptivity in terms of task characteristics alone. wherein it is simply identified with the (random) use of multiple strategies. it is possible that. indicates that whether a particular strategy (e. which increase the chance that a new strategy will be attempted (regardless of its efficiency in terms of speed and accuracy). 4 18 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . but also on variables related to the (sociocultural) context.
(3) the efficiency with which each strategy is executed (typically measured in terms of speed and/or accuracy of strategy use). Whereas most research done within this framework has looked at strategy choice and strategy change processes in children with a normal arithmetic development. in particular. of the solution strategy (see also Ellis. as situations determined by. 1997) or an ‘experimental contract’ (Greer.. low achievers and MD children use basically the same types of strategies. Torbeyns. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Siegler. formality. In their ‘model of strategy change’ Lemaire and Siegler (1995) distinguish four dimensions of strategic competence: (1) the repertoire of strategies that people use to solve a set of items in a given task domain. So. 2000). children’s strategy choices in elementary arithmetic are co-determined by characteristics of the sociocultural context in which they have to demonstrate their arithmetic skills: for example. we propose the following working definition of what it means to be adaptive in one’s strategy choices: By an adaptive choice of a strategy we mean the conscious or unconscious selection and use of the most appropriate solution strategy on a given mathematical item or problem. Most of these comparative studies have. like the decomposition-to-ten strategy.Strategy flexibility in children with low achievement in mathematics and psychological experiments ‘as situations characterised by both social and task goals’ (Ellis. for a given individual. respectively. although we do not exclude that in a particular instructional or testing setting it may have that meaning (see also Ellis. however. An influential analytic model has been proposed by Siegler and associates (Shrager & Siegler. Lave & Wenger. these analyses revealed that. which dominate cognitive-psychological research). what aspects of their strategic behaviour – instead of. some researchers have started to use this model (or similar models) to analyse low achievers’ acquisition and use of arithmetic strategies in comparison to the strategic performance of their normally developing peers. Verschaffel and Ghesquiere (2004a). Rogoff. in a given sociocultural context. the efficiency of the strategy choices taking into account the relevant task and subject parameters. etc. 1990). particularly to those choices that seem less than optimal at first glance (at least in terms of accuracy and speed. Pitta and Tall (1997). according to Ellis (1997). Are mathematically weak children less flexible than mathematically strong ones? Over the past few years. 1997. Siegler’s theory depicts cognitive development as characterised by a continuously changing repertoire of coexisting strategies. However. Verschaffel et al. originality. certitude. elegance. submitted). intelligibility. 1991. such as simplicity. to state it differently. p. compared to their normally achieving peers. and several others conducted detailed analyses of the strategies that mathematically weak children and children with mathematical difficulties (MD) apply on single-digit additions and subtractions like 5 8 and 12 5. Lemaire & Siegler. 1998. to our understanding of strategy choice. 1998. Gray. less accurately and slower than typically developing children. Generally speaking. Based on the previous brief overview. they rely more often on immature counting strategies and less often on more efficient mental strategies. 1995. or in addition to. or stated differently. So. By the phrase ‘the most appropriate strategy’ we simply do not mean ‘the strategy that leads most quickly to the correct answer’ (as in the strictly cognitive-psychological sense of the term). generality. and (4) the adaptivity with which the various strategies are chosen and applied on a given set of items. which are applied with continuously changing frequencies and proficiencies and which are executed in an increasingly adaptive way. researchers have proposed and used several models to analyse and compare children’s strategic behaviour. 1997) – can contribute. not addressed the 19 . (2) the relative frequency with which the different strategies are applied to solve this set of items. the salient aspects of speed and accuracy – seem (most) valued in the classroom and/or testing context. 1997. 508) – or. 1997. a ‘didactical contract’ (Brousseau. they execute more advanced strategies.
a third nochoice condition was added to the design. participants can freely choose which strategy they use to solve each problem. The comparison of the accuracy and speed data of the different strategies gathered in the no-choice conditions. as evidenced by the information obtained in the no-choice conditions? Hereafter. and especially the strategy flexibility/adaptivity.. in two no-choice conditions. whereas the others either solved all sums by the decomposition-to-10 (25%) or the tie strategy (18%).. In the choice condition. There were many more children who applied both strategies in the HA (77%) and MA group (65%) than among the LA children (31%). Third. Instructions and visualisations were used to force children to choose between the two strategies (in the choice condition) or to apply only the intended strategy (in the no-choice conditions). of the strategy choices of children of different mathematical ability in the domain of single-digit elementary arithmetic. To assess whether children were able to solve the problems by means of retrieval (i. The obligatory use of one particular strategy on all problems in the no-choice condition by each participant allows the researcher to obtain unbiased estimates of the speed and accuracy of the strategy (Siegler & Lemaire.Lieven Verschaffel et al. All children were administered a series of five near tie sums over ten (like 7 8 and 7 6 ) in different conditions. 2004b). 2004a. First. by knowing the answer to a sum by heart). Verschaffel & Ghesquière. Participants were 83 first graders with high. namely flexibility. Torbeyns et al. with respect to strategy repertoire. the same sums with the decomposition-to-10 and with the tie strategy. Afterwards they had to solve. in their analysis of children’s strategy choices. Torbeyns et al. and LA) and who had been taught two mental calculation strategies as part of their regular instruction – namely the above-mentioned decomposition-to-10 strategy and the tie strategy (7 8 7 7 1 14 1 15). MA. Interestingly. They characterized children’s strategy use with the four 20 above-mentioned parameters of Lemaire and Siegler’s (1995) model of strategy change. In the choice condition. we briefly and exemplarily review one study from our own centre wherein we have applied this method to compare the strategic performance.e. In the no-choice condition. Torbeyns. fourth strategy parameter. with the strategy choices made in the choice condition. the accuracy and speed data from the no-choice conditions showed that all children were quite efficient in performing both strategies Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . allows the researcher to assess the adaptivity of individual strategy choices in the choice condition in a scientifically valid way: Does the subject (in the choice condition) solve each problem by means of the strategy that yields the best performance – in terms of accuracy and speed – on this problem. some recent studies from our centre (Torbeyns et al. 1997. the results from the choice condition revealed that about half of the children applied both types of strategies to solve the near-tie items (57%). but the HA and MA children applied the tie strategy much more often than their LA peers. children could choose between the decomposition-to-10 and the tie strategy on each near-tie sum. (2005) investigated the strategic performance of first graders of different mathematical achievement levels on arithmetic sums over ten by means of the choice/no-choice method. Second. moderate or low mathematical abilities (hereafter abbreviated as HA. This method requires testing each participant under two types of conditions.. 1997). they must use one particular strategy to solve all problems. Ideally. the number of no-choice conditions equals the number of strategies available in the choice condition. 2005) tried to address the flexibility parameter. children used the tie strategy (50%) with the same frequency as the decomposition-to-10 strategy (50%) to solve the five near-tie sums in the choice condition. by using the so-called choice/no-choice method (Siegler & Lemaire. in which the children had to solve the same near-tie items (together with some extra retrieval items) by means of retrieval.
and representational tools. of course. this textbook strongly favours. to teach for routine mastery of a given arithmetic skill. Torbeyns et al. and for the topic of this paper most importantly. Kilpatrick et al. and that the HA and MA children applied these strategies more efficiently (in terms of speed) than the LA pupils. there can be no flexible or adaptive thinking and by the observation that many children do not succeed in mastering fluency and/or automaticity in a given arithmetic strategy. The textbook that was used in these classrooms was Nieuwe Reken Raak. in the choice condition mathematically HA and MA pupils did not solve more frequently the near tie sums with the most efficient strategy (according to a comparative analysis of the efficiency data from the two no-choice conditions) compared with the LA pupils. One of these explanations is of particular interest for the present article.Strategy flexibility in children with low achievement in mathematics (with accuracies . Stated differently. Verschaffel et al. if these pupils had been instructed in a mathematics classroom favoring a more sophisticated concept of flexibility (that also allowed subjective considerations besides task-related ones when making strategy choices). But this remains. at least for that part of the arithmetic curriculum. Interviews with the classroom teachers revealed that they had followed this textbook rigorously. And these norms and practices reflected a notion of strategy flexibility that was purely defined in terms of task characteristics. Several authors argue that it is better first.g.. Verschaffel et al. namely the tie strategy (e. First. even after numerous 21 . However. one particular strategy for doing near tie sums. instructional) factors that co-determine children’s strategy choices in elementary arithmetic. and afterwards to change one’s aims and pedagogy in the direction of flexible or adaptive strategy use. 6 7 6 4 3 10 3 13).. systematic and scrutinised research that convincingly supports these basic claims is problematically scarce (Geary. Finally. one might have found the expected ability-related difference in strategy flexibility. these norms and practices in these mathematics classes were strongly in favour of always solving neartie sums with the tie strategy. More specifically. So. a hypothesis. 2003. as it reflects the growing awareness among researchers of the sociocultural (i. many current reform-based documents and materials depart from the basic belief that striving for strategy flexibility is feasible and educationally valuable. in press).. these HA and MA children may have demonstrated a level of adaptivity that was suboptimal for them (in the cognitive-psychological sense of the word). So. This argument is supported by the widespread belief that without longterm memory of previously learned facts.90). 6 7 6 6 1 13). According to the authors. Hereafter we briefly discuss the above-mentioned claims concerning the optimal age and the optimal public to strive for flexibility. the comparison of the results of the choice and no-choice conditions did not reveal any group differences in strategy adaptivity. 1996) than on the strategy efficiency characteristics. and above all. or even imposes. in press).g. namely decomposition-to-10 (e. arguably. procedures. also for the younger and mathematically weaker children (Baroody et al.e. As explained above. Engendering strategy flexibility: From when on and for whom? As stated before. the HA and MA pupils might have based their strategy selections more than the LA ones on (their interpretation of) the socio-mathematical norms and practices in their mathematics classroom (Yackel & Cobb. (2005) provide several possible causes for this last unexpected finding. 2003. above the other strategy. because they made strategy selections in line with (their Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 interpretation of) the classroom norms and practices about what it means to behave flexibly with regards to this particular kind of arithmetic exercises. which should be tested in future research.. 2001. there is the issue of the optimal moment for starting to strive for adaptivity/ flexibility.. models.
Warner. 1990–1992). 2003. some studies have reported that children with low achievement in mathematics have general difficulties in flexible shifting between solution strategies. The claim that working for flexibility is unfeasible for these children is also Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 .g. 126). ‘there are effects on cognition that come with such an extended practice that could lead to reduction in cognitive flexibility – to conditions of relative rigidity in thinking and acting (while. we have noted. This idea is nicely expressed (albeit in more general terms) in the following quote from Bransford (2001. This argument against a premature strive for flexibility is opposed by many advocates of the reform-based approach to mathematics education. (. who conjecture that the development of adaptive expertise is not something that simply happens after pupils have developed routine expertise in a given domain. 2002). p.g.g. 1996). (1997. Johnston & Roy. though overlapping. 2001. attitudes. Baroody. Closely related to the issue when to start striving for strategy flexibility/adaptivity. p. Alcock & Coppolo. and ways of thinking and organising one’s knowledge that are different from routine expertise and that take time to develop. I don’t mean to imply that ‘you can’t teach an old routine expert new tricks’. the goal of developing strategy flexibility might be unfeasible or even dangerous for these children. According to Feltovich. This central executive component has been fractionated into separate. 1999. as measured by standard cognitive shifting tasks (Bull. Spiro & Coulson. functions. appears to be related to individual differences in math ability (e. Adaptive expertise involves habits of mind. is the question whether promoting flexible and adaptive strategy use is feasible and valuable across different levels of mathematical achievement. these authors argue that education for flexibility should already be present from the very beginning of the teaching/learning process (see e. 2002. 1998. the central executive component of working memory. On the contrary. Interestingly. But it’s probably harder to do this than to start people down an ‘adaptive expertise’ path to begin with – at least for most people. more desirable goals. Milo & Ruijssenaars. 3): You don’t develop it in a ‘capstone course’ at the end of students’ senior year. p. Instead the path toward adaptive expertise is probably different from the path toward routine expertise. 2001. 2004). Davis. Given the decrease in flexibility that might accompany increased routine experience in a certain domain. Threlfall (2002. such as in efficiency and speed)’. which is responsible for the control. 1999. 40) refers to the frequently heard claim that ‘(because) only the more “mathematically minded” children will be capable of learning how to make good choices. McLean & Hitch. hours of regular classroom instruction and additional specific training (see e. Wittmann & Müller. including the average and mathematically weaker ones. The claim that working for flexibility is unfeasible for these latter groups of children is supported by cognitive psychological research that has documented lower working memory capacity in children with low achievement in mathematics. 1994. regulation and monitoring of complex cognitive processes. Selter. . it seems very risky to design teaching/learning environments wherein one strives (only) for routine expertise first and postpones engendering flexibility/adaptivity until the moment routine expertise has been estab22 lished. Therefore. Bull & Scerif. In particular.) flexibility should be abandoned as an objective for the “average” and “below average”’. but also counterproductive for the development of adaptive expertise. Bull & Scerif. Gravemeijer. 2003. Swanson & Beebe-Frankenberger. one of which includes the ability to shift between tasks or strategies (Baddeley. Some authors go even further and warn against the rigidifying effects of years of diligent practice in routine expertise. affecting other. Applied to the field of elementary mathematics education. Geary. 1999).Lieven Verschaffel et al. McLean & Hitch. an initial exclusive focus on procedural fluency of some explicitly taught procedures for particular problem types may not only be unhelpful. .
2001. accuracy and speed) in one arithmetic strategy and that considers flexibility as a strategic quality of only second-rate importance. the more one will agree that there is no easy and direct shortcut to becoming adaptive. Baxter. and (d) how the effects are measured (and especially how adequately flexibility/ adaptivity is assessed). Anyhow. with23 . Clearly. Beishuizen & Treffers. the contradictory nature of the results and conclusions is not surprising and is an issue that implores further research. or to provide the children with a ‘quasi-algorithmic’ rule to associate certain problem types with certain solution strategies and to train them in the (routine) application of that rule. Geary. and that this is not something that can be trained or taught but rather something that has to be promoted or cultivated in a long-term perspective.e. if not exclusive. which is based upon a notion of flexibility that merely looks at task variables – without consideration of individual or contextual factors – misjudges the quintessence of the notion of ‘adaptivity’. 2003. it might be more efficient to teach one single strategy for each arithmetic operation. Milo & Ruijssenaars. especially with younger and mathematically weak children. attention to developing efficiency (i. Moser Opitz. adaptivity involves a personal and insightful choice based on weighing different kinds of affordances. (b) the age and characteristics of the pupils being involved (and especially of the mathematically weaker ones). It is important that further intervention research about the feasibility and the optimal form of flexibility oriented instruction for younger and mathematically weaker children is clear with respect to its focus.. 2002. Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen.and context-related variables. Woodward. Given the large differences in (a) the arithmetic tasks and solution strategies being addressed in these intervention studies. 1997. the more difficult and challenging it might become to strive for it. Sowder. Mehta & Hung. Woodward & Baxter. 2001. 2003. Woodward & Olson. Bottge. 1998. (c) the nature of the intervention (and especially what kind of strategy flexibility/adaptivity is aimed at and how it is realised through instruction). 2001. Bottge.g. 1996. Armstrong. 1999. Indeed. Monroe. 2001) indicating that especially mathematically weaker children and/or children with MD profit more from instruction that pays major. the results and conclusions of these intervention studies are contradicted by other studies that do support the claim that not only mathematically able children but also lower-achieving children benefit more from reform-based instruction (which strongly aims at the development of strategy variety and flexibility) than traditionally-oriented direct instruction (which aims at the development of one particular strategy) (Baroody. Chan & Serlin. we believe that providing children with a ‘(quasi-)algorithmic’ rule for linking problem types to solution strateEducational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 gies and with systematic training in the fluent application of that rule (as in the above-mentioned Flemish method Nieuwe Reken Raak) is not the kind of approach that will yield flexible or adaptive expertise as we have conceived and defined it. which is used with all such problems. If the major instructional aim is to obtain in the short term better gains in computational facility (operationalised as being able to solve familiar sums quickly and correctly). 2001. The latter kind of instruction. 2001). Philipp. Heinrichs. Bottge. the more one adheres the latter view on adaptivity. 2002. Whether this will be feasible and educationally valuable remains an open issue requiring further empirical research. The more one dismisses a notion of strategy flexibility that merely looks at linking welldefined strategies to task characteristics (as in Nieuwe Reken Raak).Strategy flexibility in children with low achievement in mathematics supported by the results of several intervention studies (e. Menne. taking into account the theoretical issues discussed in the first part of this article. Cichon & Ellis. Heinrichs. & Schappelle. but also subject. Klein. & Baxter. However. 1998. not only task-related variables.
Only when such studies have convincingly and repeatedly shown that the reform-based approach. to a significant degree.74 E-mail: lieven. Tel: 32 16/32. Vesaliusstraat 2. and for children with mathematical difficulties in particular. and comprise genuine strategy flexibility – combined with good understanding of mathematical concepts and principles. However.62. 3000 Leuven. Belgium Address for correspondence Lieven Verschaffel. the instructional goals are broader and more long-term. which strives for varied and flexible strategy use effectively leads to the intended outcomes (without resulting in significant loss in computational accuracy and fluency).U. Leuven.Lieven Verschaffel et al. and appropriate beliefs. and emotions towards mathematics and mathematics learning and teaching – then other. are still too much based on ‘rhetoric’ and anecdotal evi- Acknowledgements This research was partially supported by Grant GOA 2006/01 ‘Developing adaptive expertise in mathematics education’ from the Research Fund K. pattern recognition skills. researchers will be in a good position to convince policy-makers. this question also has an ethical dimension: Is it equitable to expose children of average or low ability (as assessed by traditional criteria) to a mathematics education that is intellectually less stimulating (Greer. Conclusion In this article. but also. So. Furthermore. Belgium. and context characteristics. however. out any concern for subject or context variables. attitudes. we favour an instructional approach wherein children are cultivated in developing their own preferences based on a personal reflection on task.be 24 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 .58. If. teachers. Fax: 32 16/32. we have argued that for children of all ages and all ability levels. we acknowledge that these ambitious pleas to strive for such a kind of adaptive expertise and the accompanying claims about the optimal road for reaching this ambitious goal. is not purely an empirical one. Instead. especially to design experiments involving children from different ability ranges.62.verschaffel@ ped. Especially the application of these ideas to mathematically weaker children and children with mathematical difficulties remains an open question. as supporting empirical evidence is problematically scarce (as is the counterevidence). Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. there is a great need for continued research efforts. the question which instructional approach is the best for children. and parents of the feasibility and value of striving for adaptive expertise for children of all ages and all ability levels. Centre for Instructional Psychology and Technology. dependent on the value system underlying one’s view of the purposes of mathematics education. rather than reserving it as a ‘pinnacle’ for those who first have developed routine computational expertise. subject. the most valuable instructional approach will be not the one in which children receive drilland-practice in (quasi-)algorithmic techniques for selecting the most efficient procedures for particular types of problems. If we want to make progress in our theoretical understanding and practical enhancement of strategy flexibility in elementary arithmetic of children with low achievement in mathematics (including children with MD). less routine-based instructional approaches might be more appropriate. personal communication)? dence and too little on convincing evidence from empirical research. also for the younger and mathematically weaker children.kuleuven.
org/docs/AdaptiveExpertise. confidence. Heirdsfield. D. 293–307. Gravemeijer.L. Nieuwe Reken Raak. 125–146). & Klein.S. (2001). In A. 481–498.). The Journal of Special Education. TX: PRO-ED. Utrecht. 1. G. J.R.J. B.C. Bottge. Kilpatrick.J. 421–442. The Netherlands: Freudenthal Institute. 5–28. R. (1997). R.. Anchoring adolescents’ understanding of math concepts in rich problem solving environments. (1996). Arithmetical development: Commentary on Chapters 9 through 15 and future directions... A. Dordrecht. Cooper. Gray. Issues of expert flexibility in contexts characterized by complexity and change. (1997). Dowker (Eds. & Wiecke. The National Numeracy Strategy Framework for Teaching Mathematics from Reception to Year 6.). Dowker (Eds. Haepers. F. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Caymax..M.. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Freudenthal. Sutherland & V. A. In P. Brousseau. Belgium: Wolters.. Melis. Feltovich. W.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Ellis.L. 273–293.).K. A. 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LeFevre et al. Surprisingly.g. Coleman. 2005). ‘Conceptual knowledge about counting’ was assessed by asking children to make judgments about unusual rightto-left counts and reflections on why a procedure works. Especially conceptual counting knowledge and the seriation performances in preschool. In 1941. the debate on the value of the Piagetian abilities for arithmetic remains unsolved (for a review. few studies have been conducted to explore initial learning and the development of children’s arithmetic knowledge in the transition from preschool to the primary grades (Aunola. it may be interesting to explore if subitising or ‘magnitude comparison’ can be used as early markers for arithmetic difficulties. and the procedural counting knowledge in grade 1 were important for early arithmetic reasoning. The results showed that about half of the variance in mathematical reasoning (as measured by a standardised test at age 6 to 7) was associated with the prenumerical skills of children in preschool. However. up till now. 1996). 2004. Several cognitive antecedents have been suggested as factors that play a role in the development of initial arithmetic performance and eventually as early marker for arith- metic difficulties. classification and conservation Piaget and Szeminska (1941) specified the logical abilities that children progressively Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 © The British Psychological Society 2007 28 . To assess the logical knowledge children completed ‘seriation’. O VER THE past few years. ‘conservation’ and ‘classification’ tasks. Lerkkannen & Nurmi. Bevan & Butterworth (2004) suggested that the core problem of arithmetic disabilities is a subitising deficit. Annemie Desoete & Herbert Roeyers Abstract The development of six prenumerical abilities and the relationship with numerical facility and arithmetic reasoning was explored in a longitudinal study (n 108) for children in preschool (age 5 to 6) and Grade 1. to add to our psychological understanding of initial development arithmetic skills and to help teachers respond to young children who may be at-risk for arithmetic learning disabilities as early as possible. Buysse & Neitzel.Early markers for arithmetic difficulties Pieter Stock. since Landerl. reseachers focused on the importance of ‘procedural’ and ‘conditional counting abilities’ in the development of arithmetic performance. The ‘representation of number size’ was assessed by subitising or dot and number comparison tasks. Piaget postulated that logical abilities. mounting empirical evidence suggests that the earlier we recognise vulnerable young children. Numerical facility in grade 1 (as measured by a standardised test) was associated for a smaller proportion with the prenumerical skills of children. see Lourenço & Machado. ‘Procedural knowledge about counting’ was assessed using accuracy in counting objects. especially children at-risk for reading disabilities have been at the forefront of research. Finally. classification’. it was possible to correctly classify in almost ninety percent performance in grade 1 based on the six prenumerical skills in preschool. the more likely we will be to support their subsequent development and prevent learning difficulties from occurring later on (e. Again especially conceptual knowledge about counting and seriation were suitable early markers for arithmetic difficulties. Cognitive antecedents of initial arithmetic performance Logical knowledge: seriation.. we focus on preschool predictors. and ‘conservation’ are conditional to the development of arithmetic (Piaget & Szeminska. 2006). 1941). Besides the logical abilities. Moreover. In this article. Leskinen. However. namely ‘seriation’.
(e) ‘order-irrelevance principle’ according to which objects can be counted in any order. classification was found relevant to know the cardinal of a set (e.. Arlin (1981) found that whether a child has reached the stage of concrete operations or not was an important component of a child’s academic readiness. 1992) claimed that children have conceptual knowledge before their procedural counting skills are well developed.g. Conceptual knowledge reflects a child’s understanding of why a procedure works or whether a procedure is legitimate (LeFevre et al. Since the publication of the work of Piaget. there has been a substantial literature dealing with Grade 1 (age 6 to 7) predictors of subsequent development of arithmetic skills. it develops the knowledge that the number of objects in a collection only changes when one or more objects are added or removed. Counting knowledge During the 1980s there was considerable interest in exploring procedural and conceptual knowledge in preschoolers’ counting (Le Corre. This Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 way of thinking was especially beneficial for solving reversal addition and subtraction tasks (e. ‘classification’ is the ability to sort those objects based on their similarities on one of more dimension. 2006). In contrast. making abstraction of the differences. how many balls can you see on this picture?). Procedural knowledge can be assessed using accuracy in counting objects. Gallistel & Gelman. 1983).. Although the work of Piaget remains an essential reference for practitioners working with children with arithmetic problems (Grégoire.g. Moreover. whereas classification was found not suitable as predictor of computational skills in grade 1 (Kingma. 2006). for an overview. 1984). seriation tasks in preschool predicted the number-line comprehension in first-grade children (Kingma. the Piagetian skills are no longer considered as ‘conditional’ but rather as ‘precursors’ of arithmetic development.. researchers have criticized his theories (Donaldson. According to Kingma (1983). 1996). The timing of the two types of knowledge may. 2006. Frye. 2006). the combination of conservation and seriation was a predictor for number-language. in initial arithmetic. circle the third ball from the beginning). Maroudas & Nicholls. when a child can successfully determine that there are five objects in an array (LeFevre et al. In addition.g.g. Braisby. (c) ‘cardinality principle’ according to which the final number word pronounced in a count represents the numerosity of the set. see Lourenço & Machado. For counting.g. (d) ‘abstraction principle’ according to which any kind of object can be counted. 2006).1992): (a) ‘stable-order principle’ according to which the order of number words must be invariant across counted sets. 2005). Some advocates of the ‘continuity hypothesis’ (e..Early markers for arithmetic difficulties acquire to master the concept of number. for example. Nevertheless. For example. Brannon. This concept in logical thinking is called ‘conservation’ (Piaget & Szeminska. conceptual knowledge includes understanding five principles (Gallistel & Gelman. however. ‘Seriation’ is the ability to sort a number of objects based on differences on one or more dimensions while ignoring the similarities. 1989). Van de Walle. 1978. 1941). whereas seriation was needed when dealing with ordinal numbers (e. Once a child masters seriation and classification. 2 5). Other researchers reported the opposite (e. Conceptual knowledge can be assessed by asking children to make judgments about types of counts they made (as in this study) or types of counts modeled by an animated frog (LeFevre et al. LeFevre et al. largely depend on the particular task or the 29 . Procedural knowledge is defined as children’s ability to perform an arithmetic task. (b) ‘one-one principle’ according to which every number word can only be attributed to one counted object. & Carey. Lowe. a child’s acquisition of conservation reflected his ability to think in a reversible way. Since the publication of the work of Piaget.
Informed consent was obtained from all the parents. It is obvious that early arithmetic strategies for addition and subtraction involve counting in the ‘count all’ or ‘sum’ strategy in which the child first counts each collection and then counts the combination of two collections starting from one (i. 3. 5.g. 2004). 4.. . 54 boys) children from seven randomly selected preschools in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium participated.Pieter Stock et al. Participants In a nonselected population a total of 108 (54 girls. such as the ‘count-on’ strategy where they count up from the first addend the number of times indicated by the second addend (i. Torbeyns. 2003. 4. Jordan & Flojo. 7) or the ‘min’ strategy where they count up from the larger addend the number of times indicated by the smaller addend (i. As practice increases. native Dutch-speaking children. This numerical skill is involved in subitising (rapid apprehension of small numerosity) and in magnitude comparison (i. 3. 5 2 _) become ‘automatic’. 3. 2005.9 years.. The original ‘nonselected’ sample consisted of all the children (n 108). In addition. Kaplan. . without a history of ADHD. serious emotional or behavioural problems. All children were tested in May of preschool (M 5. older children use more effective back-up strategies. it has been suggested that children’s basic conceptual understanding of how to count objects and their knowledge of the order of numbers play an important role in arithmetic performance because they promote the automatic use of arithmetic related information. 2 5 (2). 2006). Verschaffel & Ghesquière. 5. 7”). There are some arguments that problems encountered by pupils with arithmetic learning disabilities may be 30 due to a deficit in this skill (Butterworth.e. . 2. knowing which digit in a pair is larger). Moreover. 2004).e. 6. Gersten. Byrd-Craven & DeSoto. 2. 4. by executing arithmetic problems repetitively basic number facts (e. 2 5 1. Siegler & Wagner. Children with arithmetic disabilities often lack numerical facility and do not know basic number facts by heart. I know this by heart”) is made possible by the learning and progressive strengthening of memory associations between problems and answers as a result of the repeated use of algorithms (Barrouillet & Lepine. Initial arithmetic and arithmetic difficulties Initial arithmetic can be seen as a broad domain of various computational skills. Stock. 1. 6. Hoard.2 .e. 5 . sensory impairment. 6. 2005. Method Aim and research questions The present study was designed to examine if we can predict the level of children’s arithmetic from their performance in preschool (age 5 to 6). “2 5 5 2 (5). allowing attentional resources to be devoted to more complex arithmetic problem solving (Aunola. Children might have problems with arithmetic due to an insufficient knowledge base.0 months) and one year later in grade 1. 1. 2001). 2004) found that children with specific arithmetic difficulties had problems in counting. The second purpose of the study was to test if children at-risk for arithmetic learning disabilities in grade 1 (age 6 to 7) can be detected by their prenumerical skills in preschool. or a Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . brain damage.. Geary and colleagues (Geary. 2006).e. Dowker (2005) differentiated between two domains: ‘mathematical reasoning’ and ‘numerical facility’. Magnitude comparison Representation of number size is also involved in numerical competence ( Jordan. It is assumed that the retrieval strategy (“2 5 7. Desoete & Roeyers. development may be iterative (Rittle-Johnson. For some analyses out of the original sample a smaller sample (n 67) of ‘low achieving’ (LA) and ‘at least moderate achieving’ (MA) Caucasian. . chronic poor health. 7). SD 4. Olah & Locuniak..
g. The Arithmetic Number Facts test (Tempo Test Rekenen.. 31 . or ‘how many objects are there if you start counting with the leftmost object in the array’. 2006).059 children (Ghesquière & Ruijssenaars. by 2) from it.. had an age-appropriate performance level (at least level B. The LA-children (10 boys and 11 girls) performed below the 10th percentile on at least one standardised arithmetic test and the low arithmetic performance level was confirmed by the form teacher of the child. 3 2 . ‘Sort the cards from the one with fewer trees to the one with the most trees’. maximum: 3 points).g. because the difference in group sizes was too big. ‘Make groups with the cards that go together’. Standardised percentiles were used. Cronbach’s alpha was .62 months (SD 2. The psychometric value has been demonstrated on a sample of Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 550 Dutch speaking Belgian children and has been proven to be a well validated and reliable instrument (Desoete.). Cronbach’s alpha for the subtest was . . Standardised percentiles were used. from 5 up to 9). Conceptual knowledge of counting (see Appendix A subtest 2) was assessed with judgments about the validity of counting procedures.85.g. A sum score was constructed (maximum: 14 points).e. from 3). and counting by step (i.. a child who counted a set of objects was asked ‘how many objects are there in total?’.73.g. 1994). All children and parents were fluent native Dutch-speakers. 19 7 . The MA-children (22 boys and 24 girls) scored above the 50th percentile on both arithmetic tests.e. A sum score was constructed (maximum: 13 points).Early markers for arithmetic difficulties poor educational background were selected.. counting forward to an upper bound (i. Procedural knowledge of counting (see Appendix A subtest 1) was assessed using accuracy in counting numbers. up to 6). TEDI-MATH (Grégoire et al.e. When children had to count again to answer they did not gain any points. TTR. 1992) is a numerical facility test which requires that children in grade 1 solve as many number fact problems as possible within two minutes (e.). . 60%) according to the form teacher and no signs of any learning disability.g.e. 2004 Flemish adaptation) is a test designed for the assessment of arithmetic disabilities from preschool till grade 3.. de Vos. children had to count different kind of objects who were presented in a heap.246 Dutch-speaking children from grade 1 till 6..64 months (SD 2. To assess the abstraction principle. In the study the standardised total percentile based on Flanders norms was used. Children had to seriate numbers (e. counting forward by number (e.g. A socio-economic status was derived from the total number years of scholarship of the parents (starting from the beginning of elementary school). Furthermore.e. maximum: 3 points). . KRT-R) (Baudonck et al. counting backward given a starting number (i.90) for mothers and 14. one less than eight is . Children had to judge the counting of linear and random patterns of drawings and counters. . counting forward with an upper and lower bound (i. One point was given for a correct answer. Children had to make groups of cards in order to assess the classification of numbers (e.68. The psychometric value of the KRT-R has been demonstrated on a sample of 3. The psychometric value has been demonstrated for Flanders on a sample of 10. . Cronbach’s alpha was . with a mean of 14. Measurement The Kortrijk Arithmetic Test Revision (Kortrijkse Rekentest Revision. as this was considered to represent good procedural knowledge but a lack of understanding of the counting principles of Gelman & Gallistel (1978). Three logical operations were assessed (see Appendix A subtest 3). 2006) is a Belgian test of arithmetic reasoning which requires that children solve mental arithmetic (e. 7). One point was given for a correct answer with a correct motivation.) and number knowledge tasks (e.. what number you get when you count five numbers on from eight).69) for fathers. . The analysis was not run on all of the children. counting forward from a lower bound (i.
2006) and the TTR (de Vos. The second multiple regression analyses pointed out that the linear combination of prenumerical abilities at age five to six was also significantly related to numerical facility one year later (at age six to seven) assessed with TTR. p . Preschool children and first graders were asked were they saw most dots. F(6. One year later. Cronbach’s alpha was .. The linear combination of prenumerical abilities was also significantly related to numerical facility in the same grade. In the study standardised total percentiles based on Flanders norms were used. Conceptual counting knowledge and seriation were especially beneficial for beginning arithmetic reasoning (see Table 1). The children were also assessed individually in the same week by the same trained tester with TEDI-MATH. The linear combination of the prenumerical abilities was significantly related to arithmetic reasoning assessed in grade 1 (at age 6 to 7) with KRT. supervised by a trained tester. The first graders were also asked which number was closed to a certain target number (see Appendix subtest 4). maximum: 4 points).659.Pieter Stock et al. The linear combination of prenumerical abilities was significantly related to mathematical reasoning in the same grade. Six prenumerical abilities at age five to six were included simultaneously as predictor variables: procedural counting knowledge.008. With six comparisons an adjusted alpha for each comparison is p . “Do you have more counters than me? Do I have more counters than you? Or do we have the same number of counters? And why is this?. 107) 18. Counters were used to test the conservation of numbers (e. The univariate F-tests were Bonferroni-adjusted to control for the number of comparisons. seriation. p .0005. The same six prenumerical abilities were included simultaneously as predictor variables. regression. The testers. F (6. all psychologists or therapists skilled in learning disabilities. Standardised percentiles based on Flanders norms were used. classification. conceptual counting knowledge.g.79. Design and procedure All preschool children were assessed individually with the TEDI-MATH (Grégoire. One point was given for a correct answer with a correct logical motivation. One point was given for a correct answer. p . Magnitude comparison was assessed by comparison dot sets (6 items) and numbers (12 items).067.0005. R2 was . Cronbach’s alpha was .655. In addition regular preschool teachers completed a teacher survey in the same period.73.85. and Results Prospective assessment Since all variables were normally distributed and did meet the assumptions for multiple 32 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 .0005. Van Nieuwenhoven & Noël. 107) 9. received training in the assessment and interpretation of arithmetic difficulties. in grade 1 of elementary school the children completed the KRT-R (Baudonck et al. 2004) in a separate and quiet room by a trained tester. R2 was . conservation and magnitude comparison. F (6. 1992) on the same day for about one hour in total. R2 was . A sum score was constructed (maximum: 6 points in preschool and 18 points in Grade 1). two regression analyses were conducted in the nonselected sample to evaluate how well the prenumerical arithmetic abilities predicted arithmetic reasoning and numerical facility in grade 1.489.221 (see Table 2). 107) 6. Conceptual knowledge and seriation in preschool seem to be especially beneficial for both arithmetic reasoning and numerical facility in grade l (see Table 1). Cronbach’s alpha was .327. In addition regular elementary school teachers completed an elementary school teacher survey in the same period. Concurrent assessment Two additional regression analyses were conducted to evaluate how well the concurrent prenumerical abilities in grade 1 (age 6 to 7) predicted arithmetic reasoning and numerical facility in the same grade.
03 .06 .15 .33 1.02 . Knowledge Conc.82 .12 1.81 .90 .97 2.01 .08 .09 .19 . Note: Proc.07 . To answer the second research question. Note: Proc.14 .07 .03 . Knowledge Seriation Classification Conservation Subitising Unstandardised coefficients 1.33 . p .13 .009.51.85 .39 . and to investigate if children at-risk for arithmetic learning disabilities in grade 1 (age 6 to 7) can be detected by their prenumerical skills in preschool one year earlier a discriminant analysis on the sample (n 67) of ‘low achieving’ (LA) and ‘at least moderate achieving’ (MA) Caucasian.26 3. Knowledge procedural knowledge.11 .06 .05 .11 .02 .21 1.22 . knowledge Conc. 107) 3.77 .17 t Numerical facility (at age 6 to 7) Unstandardised coefficients .008* .16 .18 .16 .08 .05 .51 . N 67) 41. 2 (6.04 .07 .01 .86 1.53 .10 2.02 t Numerical facility (at age 6 to 7) Unstandardised coefficients .008* . Knowledge procedural knowledge.103 (see Table 2).11 .95 .08 . In Table 3 the standardised weights of the predictors are presented. indicating that overall the predictors differentiated among the low achieving and the at least moderate achieving group.35 . R2 was .06 .81 . 33 .008 Arithmetical reasoning (at age 6 to 7) Prenumerical skills at age 5 to 6 Constant Proc.08 .32 .0005.13 .54. conceptual knowledge of counting and seriation demonstrate the strongest relationships with initial arithmetic.056.02 .09 . Knowledge conceptual knowledge *p .04 .02 .80 .64 4. Based on these coefficients.Early markers for arithmetic difficulties Arithmetical reasoning (at age 6 to 7) Prenumerical skills at age 5 to 6 Constant Proc.10 .74 1. native DutchEducational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 speaking children.29 . Conc. Conc.64 1.93 .19 .39 .02 .13 .25 1.07 Table 2: Prediction of arithmetic reasoning skills and numerical facility from prenumerical skills at age 6 to 7. Knowledge conceptual knowledge *p .008 F(6.83 .10 . p .47 3.51 .65 1.27 .19 1.008* .50 .13 Table 1: Prediction of arithmetical reasoning and numerical facility in grade 1 (age 6 to 7) from prenumerical skills in preschool (age 5 to 6).60 .27 .18 t p p 1.85 .06 .04 .01 .89 3.008* .78 . knowledge Seriation Classification Conservation Subitising Unstandardised coefficients 9.21 .20 .74 .19 .39 1.08 .02 2.09 .31 .05 .09 .12 t p p . Wilks’ lambda was significant.07 .008* .29 . .
7 per cent of low achieving children (or 14 out of 21 children) were classified correctly.24) 55. to add to our understanding of initial development arithmetic skills and to help teachers focus on early markers for arithmetic difficulties.97 (9.78 (29.86 (29.91 (24. The analysis of low and at least average performing first graders was consistent with Discussion and conclusions Over the past few years. whereas 83. In this article.19 (19.7 per cent (or 44 out of the 46 children ) of the at least moderate achievers and 66. Finally. we focussed on the prediction of the level of children’s arithmetic in grade 1 from their performance in preschool. correlations were computed between the preschool results and the results in grade 1 (see Table 4). Roeyers & De Clercq.83) 75.49 (6. Note: LA low achievers at age 6 to 7.08 . increasing attention has been paid by policymakers to the idea of early childhood programs as important deter- Prenumerical skills at age 5 to 6 Procedural counting knowledge Conceptual counting knowledge Classification Seriation Conservation Magnitude comparison Standardised canonical discriminant function coefficients .89) 24.6 per cent of the cross-validated grouped cases were classified correctly.23) Mean prenumerical score (SD) for MA (n 46) 69.65 (16.60) 56.52) 63. minants of children’s cognitive outcomes and school readiness skills. Nevertheless. Significant correlations were found between preschool and grade 1 scores for procedural counting skills.42) 89. The at least moderate achieving group did better on conditional knowledge and seriation than the low achieving group.68) 75.67 (23.28 (24.6 per cent was classified correctly into the low achieving or at least moderate achieving group.20 . Only about one fifth of the variance in arithmetic reasoning skills can be predicted by assessing the same skills in grade 1.66) 77.59 (25. 2004).91 (21. The mean prenumerical scores on the discriminant function were consistent with this interpretation. The current results also suggest that more then one third of the variance in numerical facility in grade 1 can be predicted by assessing the prenumerical skills in preschool. Only about one tenth of the variance in fact retrieval skills can be predicted by assessing the same skills in grade 1.02 Mean prenumerical score (SD) for LA (n 21) 39. currently most arithmetic learning disabilities are not detected until Grade 3 (Desoete. Based on the six prenumerical scores 95.Pieter Stock et al. MA at least average achievers at age 6 to 7 34 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Three markers showed significant contributions: conceptual counting knowledge and seriation in preschool and procedural counting knowledge in grade 1. 86.55 (24.06 .64 .79) 62.82) Table 3: Standardised canonical discriminant function coefficients of the predictors at age 5 to 6 for arithmetic and the mean values for LA and MA at age 6 to 7. although no individual markers were significant.62 . From Table 4 we can conclude a significant relationship between procedural and conceptual knowledge in preschool but not in Grade 1. About half of the variance in arithmetic reasoning skills in first grade can be predicted by assessing six prenumerical skills in preschool.66) 62. seriation and conservation. Based on the scores for these six predictors.
00 Table 4: Intercorrelation matrix. Two thirds of the lowerelementary school children classified as ‘at risk’ were classified correctly based on their prenumerical performances in preschool at the age five to six.17 Co – – – – .08 .15 Co – – – – .05 .14 .17 .32* .26* .23 . 28* .12 .31* . Note : PK procedural knowledge of counting. Se seriation.12 .09 . CK conceptual knowledge of counting.33* .05 Cl – – . Especially conceptual knowledge and seriation were suitable predictors of at-risk arithmetic performance.24 .60* .19 Cl – – .16 .02 Se – – – . 34* .09 .00 . In line with Geary and Hoard (2005) children at-risk also had less developed counting knowledge and especially lacked conceptual counting knowledge.25 .34* .13 .05 .16 .07 Su .17 .07 . These results have as implication that in young children we should not only assess how accurately children can count (procedural knowledge) but also how they master the counting principles of Gallistel & Gelman (1992).11 .16 .26* CK – .19 Cl .27* CK . In line with research of Kingma (1983) the Piagetian model had some value added since children-at risk in grade 1 had lower scores seriation tasks.14 . we found weak connections between those components. In our dataset we found no significant con35 .08 .03 .008 the previous analysis. in line with the idea of Rittle-Johnson and colleagues Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 (2001) arguing that procedural knowledge and conceptual knowledge develop iteratively.28* .15 .02 .07 Se – – – .28* . It might be interesting to see if a controlled intervention focusing on conceptual counting knowledge and seriation skills in children at-risk can prevent learning difficulties from occurring later in these vulnerable children.14 .17 Co . 36* .35* .32* .02 Su – – – – – Grade 1 skills (age 6 to 7) Grade 1 skills CK Cl Se Co Su PK .27* CK – .19 .24 .07 Su – – – – – Preschool skills (age 5 to 6) Grade 1 skills PK CK Cl Se Co Su PK . compared with at least average performing peers. Moreover.17 .07 .17 .19 . Cl classification.37* .29* . Co conservation.Early markers for arithmetic difficulties Preschool skills (age 5 to 6) Preschool skills CK Cl Se Co Su PK .02 Se . Su subitizing *p .19 .12 .16 .
P. 699–713. Developmental dynamics of math performance to Grade 2. Henri Dunantlaan 2. Roeyers. Journal of Educational Psychology. & Nurmi. Diagnostiekwijzer]. [The Kortrijk Arithmetic Test Revision KRT-R]. 712–721. Piagetian tasks as predictors of reading and math readiness in grades-K-1. It should be acknowledged that sample size is a limitation of the present study. De Kortrijkse Rekentest Revision KRT-R. (1992). Leskinen. Recognition and response. Barrouillet. Working memory and children’s use of retrieval to solve addition problems. Such studies are currently being conducted. Validiteitsonderzoek met de TEDIMATH9 [Validity research on the TEDI-MATH]. K. and also the ability to distinguish essential form inessential counting characteristics (or the conceptual counting knowledge of young children).be References Arlin. (2006). (2004). M. A. (2005). Dyscalculia Screener. a risk of type 2. A. 37. University of Ghent. Samyn. Also more research on other variables such as home and school environment. H. 183–204. 9. Nevertheless. M. J. Children with mathematics learning disablities in Belgium.. Journal of learning disabilities. Summarising.desoete@Ugent. Obviously sample size is not a problem for significant correlations or regressions. 36 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Such longitudinal studies with a multilevel design are currently being prepared... Desoete. Baudonck. Especially the inability to do such things in preschool (at the age 5 to 6) may be a marker for later arithmetic disabilities. A. & Neitzel. V. Dewulf. V. All of those children had below critical cut-off scores (they scored pc 10 on at least one arithmetics test) in grade 1. our dataset support that we should assess procedural counting knowledge. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. R. T.R. An Early Intervening system for Young children at-risk for Learning Disabilities.. B-9000 Gent. (2006). (2004). However.or -error (concluding from the cohort that there were no differences although in reality there were differences in the population) can not be excluded. London: NFER Nelson Publishing Company Ltd. Desoete. Vercaemst. Butterworth. 91. These results should be interpreted with care since the analyses are correlational in nature and numerosity skills might involve different cognitive skills and might be age-. P. (2003). Research Group Developmental Disorders. A. Belgium E-mail: anne. (2006). Address for correspondence Department of Clinical Psychology. B.. In addition. M. not only the prenumerical but also the facets of numerical competence (such as the knowledge of the numerical system and the arithmetical operations) still need a full explanation. De Vos. to replicate the results of this study. in our sample many children (about 20 per cent) could be classified. parental involvement but also the facets of numerical competence (such as the knowledge of the numerical system and the arithmetical operations) is needed. Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger. It would be interesting to investigate if these deficits persist across two successive grades and if all these children will demonstrate a severe and resistant learning disability or if some of them will become mildly delayed arithmetic problem solvers having difficulties that are not related to learning disabilities. based on their test scores as pupils at-risk. & Lepine.. Tempotest rekenen [Arithmetic number fact test].Pieter Stock et al. Buysse. the ability to seriate in preschool. tribution of subitising skills in the prediction of early arithmetic scores. In addition. Bevan & Butterworth (2004) children at-risk did worse on magnitude comparison tasks than at least average performing peers. 96. Research with larger groups of poor arithmetic performers and children with learning disabilities followed for longer periode of time during elementary school seems therefore indicated. F. and intelligence-dependent and still maturing. Debusschere. Research synthesis and recommendations. B. J. Coleman.. (1981). UNIC FPG Child Development Institute. E. Lerkkanen. Kortrijk: CAR Overleie. TTR.. Aunola. & De Clercq. 73. A. Journal of Educational Psychology.K. when analyses were not significant. 50–61. in line with Landerl. & Desoete.
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Max 3 point —Counting random pattern of items (“how many turtles are there? How many turtles are there in total ? ”). when all the snowman had a hat on this picture?”) Max 1 point —Seriation: “Sort the cards form the one with fewer trees to the one with the most trees. Can you put them together in another way?” and “Make groups with these cards that go together” Max 3 points —Conservation: 4 items: Do you have more counters than me? Do I have more counters than you? Or do we have the same number of counters? Why? Max 4 points 2. max 9 points) (Continued ) 38 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Why? ”). with starting help 1 point) — Counting forward to an upper bound (“up to 9 ”) —Counting forward to an upper bound (“up to 6 ”) —Counting forward from a lower bound (“from 3 ”) —Counting forward from a lower bound (“from 7 ”) —Counting forward from a lower bound to an upper bound (“from 5 up to 9”) —Counting forward from a lower bound to an upper bound (“from 4 up to 8”) —Counting forward (“5 steps starting at 8 ”) —Counting forward (“6 steps starting at 9 ”) —Count backward (“from 7 ”) —Count backward (“from 15 ”) —Count by step (by 2) —Count by step (by 10) —Counting linear pattern of items (“how many rabbits are there? How many rabbits are there in total?”. Procedural knowledge (13 items. max 13 points) 3. Why?”). and “how many rabbits are there if you start counting with this one. Max 2 points —Counting random pattern of items (“how many sharks are there? How many sharks are there in total? ”). and “how many lions have I hidden. Max 2 points —Counting a heterogeneous set of items (“how many animals are there in total? ”).Pieter Stock et al. Conceptual knowledge (7 items. Max 1 point —Understanding of the cardinal (“Can you put as much counters as there are on this paper? ”) Max 1 point —Understanding of the cardinal (“How many hat do I have in my hand. Appendix A: Subtsests and examples of test-items of the TEDI-MATH Subtest 1. Start with the cart with smallest number and go on with the other carts” Max 3 points —Classification: “Make groups with the cards that go together. Logical operations on numbers (9 items. forgot this card” and “Can you put this card in the correct order?” and “I give you carts with numbers now. Max 3 points —Counting linear pattern of items (“how many lions are there? How many lions are there in total?”. max 14 points) Content and example of item —Counting as far as possible (without help 2 points. Do the same as with the trees.
1 dot versus 3 dots 3 dots versus 2 dots 4 dots versus 6 dots 7 dots versus 2 dots 7 dots versus 12 dots 15 dots versus 8 dots (see example) max 6 points Estimation of size: Comparison of distance between numbers (in grade 1). Estimation of the size (18 items. What number is closed to this (3 or 9)? —Target number is 3. What number is closed to this (5 or 7)? —Target number is 7. —Target number is 4. What number is closed to this (8 or 2)? (see ex. What number is closed to this (3 or 9)? —Target number is 6. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 39 . 18 points) Content and example of item Comparison of dot sets (subitising): in preschool and grade 1 Where do you have most dots? Here or here? Show me. What number is closed to this (8 or 1)? —Target number is 32. What number is closed to this (53 or 99)? —Target number is 79. What number is closed to this (7 or 3)? —Target number is 9. What number is closed to this (48 or 86)? max 12 points. What number is closed to this (5 or 9)? —Target number is 2.Early markers for arithmetic difficulties Subtest 4. What number is closed to this (59 or 24)? —Target number is 48. What number is closed to this (7 or 4)? —Target number is 8. above) —Target number is 5. What number is closed to this (57 or 15)? —Target number is 61.
but intervention programs for assisting children are seldom successful for all. This article explores these aspects with the aim of providing advice for teachers. Montgomery. Second. Arithmetic difficulties may not be straightforward. and suggest that there is no single ‘formula’ for describing children who are vulnerable in number learning. and Multiplication and Division Strategies). but once we recognise this fact. Sullivan. Cheeseman. Indeed. Recent Australian research suggests that this is because we have failed to recognise the complexity of arithmetic difficulties. the diversity of children’s mathematical knowledge in the four domains suggests that knowledge in any one domain is not necessarily prerequisite for knowledge construction in another domain. Further. In so doing. and that experiences in one domain should not be delayed until a level of mathematical knowledge is constructed in another domain.000 oneon-one clinical interviews conducted over three years during the Early Numeracy Research Project provided rich data for charting the pathway of young children’s number learning in four domains (Counting. children have learning needs that call for teachers to make individual decisions about the instructional approach for each child. Vulnerability in arithmetic learning The argument presented in this paper is based on the assumption that it is important for school communities to identify children who. This conclusion became apparent to us after we analysed the number knowledge of several thousand Australian students during the Early Numeracy Research Project (ENRP. Roche. then the way forward to helping students is clearer. and for identifying children who were having difficulty.Assessing and teaching children who have difficulty learning arithmetic Ann Gervasoni & Peter Sullivan Abstract Arithmetic difficulties have long captured the attention of teachers and researchers. Clarke & Rowley. Place Value. as emerging school mathematicians and after one year at school. What we discovered is that the number knowledge of children who are vulnerable is much more diverse that we had anticipated. have not thrived in the school environment. or for describing the instructional needs of students. and to provide these children with the type of learning opportuniEducational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 © The British Psychological Society 2007 . 2002). First. teachers need to provide effective learning experiences that can be easily customised to respond to children’s individual learning needs. We describe such children as being vulnerable or at risk of not being able to take advantage of everyday classroom experiences. It seems likely that children may benefit from concurrent learning opportunities in all number domains. This finding has important implications for the way classroom teachers and specialist teachers assess students and plan and implement curriculum and instruction that accelerates vulnerable children’s number learning. McDonough. Gronn. 6 and 7years). teachers need assessment tools that are responsive to the diversity of children’s number knowledge and that enable teachers to determine the extent of children’s current mathematical knowledge 40 A in the number domains. Horne. This finding has implications for both intervention programs and for the way in which school mathematics is introduced to children. SSISTING CHILDREN who have difficulty learning arithmetic is not straightforward. The data show that the combinations of domains in which children were vulnerable were diverse. Gervasoni. Analysis of some 30. Clarke. we draw on findings from the ENRP that researched mathematics learning in the first three years of schooling (ages 5. Addition and Subtraction Strategies.
Cobb & von Glasersfeld. Counts all to find the total of two collections. Hart. Boulton-Lewis. Given subtraction situations. Brinkman & Blackmore. tens facts. The perspective that underpinned our research was that those children who have not thrived have not yet received the type of experiences and opportunities necessary for them to construct the mathematical understandings needed to successfully engage with the school mathematics curriculum. count down to & count up from. The term vulnerable is widely used in population studies (e. 2003). where possible. Uses derived strategies for solving addition and subtraction problems (near doubles. can solve them mentally. 1998. To illustrate the nature of the growth points. the fundamental building block of which was a set of growth points (see Appendix A) that describe key stages in the learning of various domains of mathematics. the interview items and the comparative achievement of students in project and references schools are described in full in Clarke et al. ● reflect the findings of relevant international and local research in mathematics education (e.g. Steffe. Each growth point represents substantial expansion in mathematical knowledge. intuitive strategies). adding 9. using the appropriate strategies and a clear understanding of key concepts. 1996. Mass and Time). fact families. The challenge remains for teachers and school communities to create learning environments and design mathematics instruction that enables vulnerable children’s mathematics learning to flourish. Thus. 2002). 5. Uses basic strategies for solving addition and subtraction problems (doubles. Mulligan & Mitchelmore. 1992. other known facts). Place Value. the following are the points for the Addition and Subtraction Strategies domain: 1. The principles underlying the construction of the growth points were that they would: ● describe the development of children’s mathematical knowledge and understanding in the first three years of school. 1983. and Multiplication and Division Strategies). In discussions with teachers. and ● enable identification of those students who may benefit from additional assistance. commutativity. the notion of intervention early in schooling is important. or to make sense of this curriculum. build to next ten. and two Space/Geometry domains (Properties of Shape. Addition and Subtraction Strategies. 4. 3. ● allow the mathematical knowledge and Using growth points to describe children’s number learning The data presented in this article were collected from 1999 to 2001 as part of the ENRP (Clarke et al. chooses appropriately from strategies including count back. and refers to children whose environments include risk factors that may lead to poor developmental outcomes. von Glasersfeld. the structure of mathematics. Steffe. Fuson. 6. adding 10. 2. Given a range of tasks (including multidigit numbers).g. ● reflect.Assessing and teaching children who have difficulty learning arithmetic ties and experiences that will enable them to thrive and extend their mathematical understanding. 1996. The growth points developed formed a framework for describing children’s development in four Number domains (Counting. through highlighting important ideas in early mathematics understanding in a form and language that is useful for teachers. three Measurement domains (Length. As a result. growth points are described as key “stepping stones” along paths 41 . Counts on from one number to find the total of two collections. 1999). Bobis & Gould.. and Visualisation and Orientation). 1988. The processes for validating the growth points. these children are vulnerable and possibly at risk of poor learning outcomes. (2002). Wright. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 understanding of individuals and groups to be described. Richards & Cobb.
Children who are not sucEducational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 The clinical assessment interview based on the growth points The framework of growth points formed the structure for the creation of the assessment items used as the basis of a clinical interview. the interviewer moves on to the next domain or moves into a detour. and ● identify the diversity of mathematical knowledge in a class. Words in italics are instructions for the interviewer. The full text of the interview involves around 60 tasks. designed to elaborate more clearly any difficulty a child might be having in a particular area. Teachers gain insights into children’s mathematical knowledge from their responses to the interview tasks. the order of the growth points provides a guide to the possible trajectory (Cobb & McClain. to customise curriculum planning and instruction accordingly. In a similar way to that described by Owens & Gould (1999) in the Count Me In Too project: “the order is more or less the order in which strategies are likely to emerge and be used by children” (p. Wright. 4). The March interviews enabled teachers to determine the growth points reached by children at the beginning of the school year. while the others continue with 18(d) to determine whether they can use a count-all strategy to solve the problem when all items may be seen. the interviewer continues with the next task in the given mathematical domain (e. ● identify any children who may be vulnerable in a given domain.000 assessment interviews. For example. The November interview enabled growth over the year to be determined for each child. Children who are successful move on to Question 19. However. known as the Early Numeracy Interview (Department of Education Employment and Training. It is not claimed that every student passes all growth points along the way. 2000). Martland & Stafford. and the symbols and arrows indicate which question to ask next. 1997. The insights gained through this form of assessment inform teachers about the particular instructional needs of each student more powerfully than scores from traditional pencil and paper tests. ● describe (following assessment) the mathematics achievements of each child.Ann Gervasoni & Peter Sullivan to mathematical understanding (Clarke. Given success with a particular task. 2001). a child’s response to Question 18 enables the teacher to determine whether a child can count-on or use reasoning strategies or known facts to solve the problem. If the child cannot perform a particular task correctly. In summary. Question 19 provides information about children’s arithmetic strategies in a simple subtraction context in which models are not initially provided. than 20. the framework of growth points help teachers to: ● understand a possible trajectory for describing children’s learning. 1999) of children’s learning. nor should the growth points be regarded as discrete. Figure 1 shows the first two questions from the Addition and Subtraction Strategies section of the interview. ● describe a zone of proximal development in each domain so as to customise planning and instruction. Clinical interviews enable the teacher to observe children as they solve problems to determine the strategies used and any misconceptions. the assessment interview was conducted with every child in project schools at the beginning and end of each school year (March and November respectively). 2001). and to identify any children who were vulnerable in a particular domain. Both the Early Numeracy Interview and the framework of growth points were refined throughout the first two years of the ENRP in response to data collected from more 42 . Addition and Subtraction Strategies) for as long as the child is successful. In the ENRP. and to probe children’s mathematical understanding through thoughtful questioning (Ginsburg. The Early Numeracy Interview takes between 30 to 40 minutes per student and during the ENRP was conducted by the regular classroom teacher. although no child is presented with all of these.g.
. 1997.g. 2001). The Early Numeracy Interview provided teachers participating in the ENRP with insights about children’s mathematical knowledge that they reported might otherwise not have been forthcoming (Clarke. That’s nine teddies hiding here and four teddies here (point to the groups). The on the way growth point in any domain is used to identify children who have constructed the mathematical knowledge 43 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . a) Imagine you have 8 little biscuits in your play lunch and you eat 3. . . blue and yellow problem cards. In order to identify children who are vulnerable in their number learning. 2000). c) Tell me how many teddies we have altogether. 1997). ice-cream lid. If children are still unable to use a successful strategy. Ginsburg. In the ENRP the decision on where to draw the line was made on the basis of on the way growth points (Gervasoni. Q19 If the child does not say 13. and then screen the nine teddies with the ice-cream lid). Please explain how you worked it out. white. 18) Counting On Place 9 green teddies on the table. Catholic and Independent schools from across the State of Victoria in Australia that were widely representative of the Victorian population. sometimes a line is drawn across a distribution of test scores. and children ‘below’ the line are deemed at risk (e. please go to part (d) d) (Remove the lid).Assessing and teaching children who have difficulty learning arithmetic SECTION C: STRATEGIES FOR ADDITION & SUBTRACTION Equipment: green teddies. How did you work that out? Q20 part (b) b) Could you use your fingers to help you to work it out? (it’s fine to repeat the question. . with the final task involving the subtraction of 3-digit numbers. a) Please get four green teddies for me. Successful students move on to a series of more complex tasks in the Addition and Subtraction Strategies domain. Please tell me how many there are altogether. 19) Counting Back For this question you need to listen to a story. Section D Figure 1: Excerpt from the addition and subtraction strategies section of the ENRP assessment interview cessful with this task are provided with a prompt to use their fingers as a model.and 7 year-olds) Participants in the Early Numeracy Research Project in the year 2000 included 1497 Grade 1 children (6-year-olds) and 1538 Grade 2 children (7-year-olds) from 34 ENRP trial schools. Woodward & Baxter. b) I have nine green teddies here (show the child the nine teddies. How many do you have left? . the interviewer moves to the questions on Multiplication and Division Strategies. The project found that teachers were able to use this information to plan instruction that would provide students with the best possible opportunities to extend their mathematical understanding. but no further prompts please). Using growth points to identify vulnerability in number learning for Grade 1 and 2 children (6. . These schools included Government.
a student who can read. The domains and combinations of domains for which children were vulnerable When considering the domains and combinations of domains for which children were vulnerable. there are three aspects of interest: the number of students who are vulnerable in the respective domains. order and interpret two digit numbers will benefit from the usual Grade 2 numeracy experiences in the Place Value domain. The analysis of ENRP participants’ growth point data found that there were 576 (out of 1497) Grade 1 children in 2000. Addition and Subtraction Strategies. the extent to which children are vulnerable in multiple domains. ● counts on from one number to find the total of two collections. The development of appropriate on the way growth points for Grade 1 (the second year of school) and Grade 2 children was guided by three data sources: the ENRP growth point distributions for Grade 1 and Grade 2 children in March 2000. The analyses and synthesis of these data resulted in the following on the way growth points being established for children at the beginning of Grade 1 in Counting. write. such students still require support. these data suggest that in a typically Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 44 . and the opinions of ENRP Grade 1 and Grade 2 classroom teachers (see Gervasoni. The number of children who were vulnerable in each number domain is shown in Table 1. The on the way growth points established for children at the start of Grade 2 were: ● counts forwards and backwards beyond 109 from any number. ● uses grouping to solve multiplicative tasks. they may be vulnerable and unable to take advantage of the activities they will experience during the year. they are based on considered judgments and they form the basis of the data reported in the following section. for elaboration of this). In other words. ● can read. write. order and interpret one digit numbers. In other words. order and interpret two digit numbers. or 43 per cent of the Grade 2 children. who were vulnerable in at least one number domain. the Victorian Curriculum and Standards Framework II (Board of Studies. or 38 per cent of the group. The number of vulnerable students in Grade 2 is larger. Students who cannot do so are vulnerable and may not be able to take advantage of those same experiences. ● counts all to find the total of two collections. although it can be noted that this is perhaps a function of the definition. write. and who are likely to continue to learn successfully.Ann Gervasoni & Peter Sullivan that underpins the initial mathematics curriculum in a particular domain and grade level. If they cannot count 20 objects. being able to count a collection of 20 objects is one piece of evidence to suggest that children are ready for conventional Grade 1 experiences. 2000) for Grade 1 and Grade 2. and Multiplication and Division Strategies respectively: ● can count collections of at least 20 items. While this might be a characteristic of a curriculum in the first year of school that avoided this domain. Not yet reaching the on the way growth point in a particular domain is an indicator that children may be vulnerable in that domain and may benefit from support to help them reach the on the way growth point. ● counts group items individually in multiplicative tasks. 2004. Place Value. To illustrate the implications for teaching. and the nature of vulnerable students’ achievements in domains in which they are not vulnerable. The number of students vulnerable in Multiplication and Division Strategies is larger. ● can read. In Grade 1 (6-year-olds). Even though these respective on the way growth points are to some extend arbitrary. The number of Grade 2 children in 2000 who were vulnerable in at least one number domain was 659 (n 1538). These students were unable to solve a multiplicative task even by counting the items individually. the number of students vulnerable in any domain according to the earlier definition is small but large enough to require considered attention.
it can be anticipated that specific interventions can address the respective vulnerabilities. It would be usually assumed that there was considerable overlap in these vulnerabilities. On the other hand. About three children will be vulnerable in each of Counting. To explore this further. While there is still a remarkable spread of vulnerabilities in the respective domains. then specific interventions can be expected to redress this situation. and there were no combinations of domains that were common for children who were vulnerable. By way of explanation. Overall. The most striking inference is that there were only 23 children (out of a total of 1497) who were vulnerable in all four domains. Indeed. and these domains varied. this suggests that vulnerability is a function of absence of specific experiences. There were 576 Grade 1 children who were vulnerable in at least one domain. while the 36 students (nearby) are vulnerable in both Place Value and Multiplication and Division Strategies. There were 659 Grade 2 children who were vulnerable in at least one domain. and only another 57 who were vulnerable in any three domains. There was a spread of vulnerability across all domains. there are 219 (out of 1538) of the Grade 2s who were vulnerable in three or four domains. However. about 14 children (62 per cent) will have reached the on the way points in all domains. on the other hand. most Grade 2 children who were vulnerable were vulnerable in either one or two domains. We can expect that once teachers recognise that any child is vulnerable in a given domain. A similar diagram indicating the intersecting domains for which Grade 2 children were vulnerable is shown in Figure 3 (N 1538). and Addition and Subtraction Strategies. but the higher percentages in the respective domains indicate that more students are vulnerable in multiple domains. there are 33 students (top right hand side) who are vulnerable in Place Value but in no other domain. On one hand.Assessing and teaching children who have difficulty learning arithmetic Domain Counting Place Value Addition and Subtraction Strategies Multiplication and Division Strategies Grade 1 (n 1497) Grade 2 (n 1538) 163 (11%) 149 (10%) 176 (12%) 423 (28%) 371 (24%) 417 (27%) 294 (19%) 280 (18%) Table 1: Number of children in year 2000 who were vulnerable in each number domain sized Grade 1 class of 24 students. for students who were vulnerable in one domain. while 10 children (38 per cent) will be vulnerable in one or more number domains. To explore the overlaps between the domains for Grade 1 children. their performance in the other domains. the diversity of domains and combinations of domains in which Grade 2 children were vulnerable is striking. This may occur if children do not have enough experiences in a Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 domain or are not able to take advantage of these so as to construct knowledge. we examined. while a shortcoming of the Early Numeracy Interview was the limited number of items associated with a particular 45 . This is a higher proportion than for Grade 1 children. In a typical Grade 2 class (7-year-olds). Place Value. Figure 2 provides a diagrammatic representation of the intersecting domains for which the Grade 1 children were vulnerable. Making inferences about vulnerability The above figures indicate a surprising diversity of knowledge across the various number domains. the number of students who have reached the on the way points in all domains is similar. and seven children will be vulnerable in the Multiplication and Division Strategies domain.
● 48 per cent could solve the addition problem (9 4 teddies) by counting-all the items. Counting. that is without having to see the original nine teddies. given that these items were asked at the start of the interview. and a further 14 per cent could solve the solve that problem by countingon. This could account for the low number of aberrant results. its strength was its capacity to facilitate comparisons of performance across domains. and sharing 12 teddies among 4 mats). Of the 163 Grade 1 children who were vulnerable in Counting (which meant that they did not count a collection of about 20 teddies accurately): ● 64 per cent were at the level of reading. The following data refer to the students in Grades 1 and 2 who were vulnerable in Counting.g. we found extraordinary consistency in responses from the students implying there were few careless errors. ordering and interpreting one digit numbers. just because a student is vulnerable in Counting this does not mean that they need particular support in other domains. and that the respective domains (e. writing.Ann Gervasoni & Peter Sullivan 37 14 15 36 18 231 48 23 16 12 8 33 36 19 65 67 83 24 44 54 93 8 20 10 58 32 6 21 43 60 Figure 2: Diagrammatic representation of the intersecting domains for which Grade 1 children (6-year-olds) were vulnerable (n 576) Figure 3: Diagrammatic representation of the intersecting domains for which Grade 2 children (7-year-olds) were vulnerable (n 659) growth point in any one domain. A logical conclusion is that the capacity of students in particular domains is a function of their prior experiences with whatever are the necessary pre-requisite knowledge and skills for that domain. It is possible that some of these students made a mistake with the counting of the set of 20 teddies. ● 61 per cent could accurately compare the 46 length of a string and a straw. and examines their achieved growth points in the other domains. Addition and Subtraction Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . However. Likewise the results are unlikely to be a result of fatigue. the interviews were administered one by one by class teachers. In the project schools. and 14 per cent could use grouping strategies (such as skip counting) to solve those tasks. Place Value. and a further 26 per cent could use paper clips as a unit to quantify the length of the straw. Further the items were asked on the same day reducing variations due to external circumstances. ● 30 per cent could solve multiplicative tasks by counting objects one by one (actually making and quantifying 4 groups of 2 teddies. in the analysis across six separate interviews for each child. Clearly.
Assessing and teaching children who have difficulty learning arithmetic Strategies, and Multiplication and Division Strategies) are less connected to each other than we had anticipated. The main result is that teachers should be advised to evaluate students’ performance on particular tasks, and to take care when inferring from performance on one task to performance on another, or from one domain to another. There was less variability in the profiles of the Grade 2 children, but similar conclusions can be drawn nevertheless. Of the 371 Grade 2 children who were vulnerable in Counting (meaning that they could not continue a counting sequence): ● 26 per cent were at the level of reading, writing, ordering and interpreting two digit numbers, and a further 4 per cent were doing this for numbers up to 1000; ● 45 per cent could solve the addition problem (9 4) by counting-on, and a further 7 per cent could solve subtraction tasks like 8 – 3 and 12 – 9; ● 54 per cent could use grouping (evident by skip counting) to solve multiplicative tasks, and a further 2 per cent could abstract multiplicative thinking (meaning they could solve a task like 15 teddies seated in 3 equal rows, without using models); ● 51 per cent could accurately compare the length of a string and a straw and a further 40 per cent could use paper clips as a unit to quantify the length of the straw. In other words, close to half of the students who were vulnerable in the Counting domain were performing at least up to expectations in other number domains. We had anticipated that Counting would be fundamental to a capacity to respond to items in Place Value, Addition and Subtraction Strategies, and Multiplication and Division Strategies, but it seems that this is not the case. This has implications both for curriculum and for teaching. Grade 1 and Grade 2 children identified as vulnerable in aspects of learning school mathematics. This group is far from being a homogeneous one. Indeed, there were no patterns in the domains in which children were vulnerable, or in any combinations of domains for which children were vulnerable. Vulnerability was widely distributed across all four domains and combinations of domains in both grade levels. However, one feature of the findings for Grade 1 children is worth noting. Twice as many Grade 1 children were vulnerable in Multiplication and Division than for any other domain, but this level of vulnerability was not maintained for Grade 2 children. It is likely that this finding is an artefact of the mathematics curriculum in Victoria that does not recommend Multiplication and Division experiences for children in the first year of school. It is therefore likely that some teachers may not provide such learning opportunities for their students. The fact that so many Grade 1 children did reach the on the way growth point for Multiplication and Division indicates that children will benefit from opportunities to enhance their construction of knowledge in the Multiplication and Division domain throughout the first year of school. If this were to occur, then perhaps fewer Grade 1 children would be identified as vulnerable in the Multiplication and Division domain. A feature of the findings for Grade 2 children worth noting is that a higher proportion of students were vulnerable in three or four domains. It is likely that this finding is an artefact of the assessment interview and growth points. However, this situation also reflects the increasing complexity of the mathematics curriculum that Grade 2 children typically experience. An implication of this finding may be that it is important to provide intervention programs for children who are vulnerable as early in their schooling as possible, before their difficulties increase in complexity. The findings have several other implications for the instructional needs of children. 47
Discussion and implications
The findings presented in the previous sections highlight the diversity of mathematical understandings amongst the group of Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2
Ann Gervasoni & Peter Sullivan Most importantly, the results indicate that children who are vulnerable in aspects of learning school mathematics have diverse learning needs, and this calls for particular customised instructional responses from teachers. It is likely that teachers need to make individual decisions about the instructional approach for each child, and that there is no ‘formula’ that will meet all children’s instructional needs. Further, the diversity of children’s mathematical knowledge in the four domains suggests that knowledge in any one domain is not necessarily prerequisite for knowledge construction in another domain. For example, some teachers may assume that children need to be on the way in Counting before they are ready for learning opportunities in the Addition and Subtraction Strategies domain. On the contrary, the findings presented in Figures 1 and 2 indicate that some children who are not on the way in Counting are already on the way in Addition and Subtraction, and this pattern is maintained for the other domains also. This finding has implications for the way in which the school mathematics curriculum is introduced to children. It seems likely that children will benefit from learning opportunities in all four number domains, provided in tandem with one another, and that learning opportunities in one domain should not be delayed until a level of mathematical knowledge is constructed in another domain. Responsive instruction and intervention for vulnerable learners of school mathematics The data presented earlier suggest that addressing arithmetic difficulties is not straight forward because of the diversity of the domains and combinations of domains in which children are vulnerable. A theme emerging in the literature is the need for instruction and learning experiences to closely match children’s individual learning needs (e.g. Ginsburg, 1997; Greaves, 2000; Wright et al., 2000). Rivera (1997) believes that instruction is a critical variable in effective programming for children with mathe48 matics learning difficulties, and that instruction must be tailored to address individual needs, modified accordingly, and evaluated to ensure that learning is occurring. The need for ‘tailored’ instruction is because diversity among and within subgroups of children who have difficulty with learning mathematics is as great as for that across the general population (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). Certainly the number knowledge of the vulnerable learners explored in this paper was characterised by its diversity. Therefore, it is important to consider intervention for those with arithmetic difficulties as a concept rather than a program, and for programs to respond to diversity, as target groups are heterogeneous rather than homogeneous. Ginsburg (1997) articulated a process for using the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978) for enhancing children’s learning, believing that this is an important idea for assisting teachers develop suitable learning opportunities for children. The zone of proximal development is described as ‘the distance between the actual developmental level, as determined by independent problem solving, and the level of potential development, as determined through problem-solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers’ (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86), and defines those functions that have not yet matured but ‘are in the process of maturation’ (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86). Ginsburg’s process is that first, the teacher analyses children’s current mathematical understandings and identifies their learning potential within the zone of proximal development. Next, the teacher presents a problem in an area with which the child had difficulty, and provides hints to assist the problem solving process. These hints range from general metacognitive hints to those specific to the mathematical demands of the task. The amount of help each child needs is an estimate of his or her learning efficiency within the domain. The teacher continues presenting problems to the student of a similar nature, providing as Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2
Assessing and teaching children who have difficulty learning arithmetic much help as necessary, until the student is able to solve the problems independently. Finally, the teacher presents near, far and very distant transfer problems and students are given assistance, as needed, to solve them. Apart from enhancing learning, Ginsburg (1997) argues that this type of technique is required to establish the extent to which cognitive difficulties persist despite constant efforts to remove them. Sullivan, Mousley and Zevenbergen (2006) also highlighted the importance of teachers adjusting tasks to enable children who experience difficulty to engage successfully in learning opportunities. For example, they claim that student difficulties with a particular task might be a result of: the number of steps; the number of variables; the modes of communicating responses; the number of elements in recording; the degree of abstraction or visualisation required; the size of the numbers to be manipulated; the language being used; or psychomotor considerations. They argued that a teacher could anticipate these difficulties, and prepare prompts and associated resources to: reduce the required number of steps; reduce the required number of variables; simplify the modes of representing results; reduce the written elements in recording; make the task more concrete; reduce the size of the numbers involved; simplify the language; or reduce the physical demand of any manipulatives. Thus, we are recommending that teachers be oriented towards responding to individual children’s learning needs by adjusting tasks to increase engagement, an important aspect of assisting vulnerable learners. Wright et al. (2000) also advocated that teachers should routinely make adjustments to planned activities on the basis of children’s responses. Further, they argue that tasks should be genuine problems for children, and that children should be challenged to bring about reorganisations in their thinking (Wright et al., 2000). Each of the strategies outlined above is important to consider when teaching children with arithmetic difficulties. However, Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 fundamental to meeting children’s individual learning needs is the notion of a framework of growth points or stages of development, such as that developed for the ENRP. Growth points help teachers to identify children’s zone of proximal development in mathematics so as to create appropriate learning opportunities, and in order to adjust activities to increase engagement and remove features that are creating barriers to learning. Thus, reference to a framework of growth points helps to ensure that instruction for vulnerable children is closely aligned to children’s initial and ongoing assessment, and is at the ‘cutting edge’ of each child’s knowledge (Wright et al., 2000). In summary, we believe the following instructional practices are important for enhancing mathematics learning for children who have arithmetic difficulties: 1. targeting instruction within a child’s zone of proximal development in each domain, based on current assessment information about the child’s mathematical understandings and the probable course of the child’s learning; 2. making adjustments to planned activities on the basis of children’s responses; 3. presenting rich, challenging problems that promote ‘hard thinking’ within a child’s zone of proximal development and in an area with which the child had difficulty; providing hints to assist the problem solving process, ranging from general metacognitive hints to those specific to the mathematical demands of the task; continually presenting problems of a similar nature, providing as much help as necessary, until the student is able to solve the problems independently. These approaches are important to consider when providing intervention programs for children with arithmetic difficulties, and when examining the effectiveness of an intervention program.
The findings presented in this paper suggest that there is no single ‘formula’ for describing 49
Ann Gervasoni & Peter Sullivan children who have difficulty learning arithmetic or for describing the instructional needs of this diverse group of students. Further, it is not possible to assume that because a child is vulnerable in one aspect of number learning, then he or she will be vulnerable in another. This finding may surprise some teachers and highlights why assisting children with arithmetic difficulties is not straight forward. Meeting the diverse learning needs of children is a challenge, and requires teachers to be knowledgeable about how to identify each child’s learning needs and customise instruction accordingly. This calls for rich assessment tools capable of mapping the extent of children’s knowledge in a range of domains, and an associated framework of growth points capable of guiding teachers curriculum and instructional decision-making. It follows that intervention programs for children who are vulnerable need to be flexible in structure in order to meet the diverse learning needs of each participating child. Intervention teachers need to provide instruction and feedback that is customised for the particular learning needs of each child, and based on knowledge of children’s current mathematical knowledge. Further, teachers need to ensure that children take advantage of learning experiences by drawing children’s attention to the salient features to facilitate the construction of knowledge and understanding. Another issue for Intervention programs is that the diversity we discovered in children’s number knowledge and abilities in a range of number domains suggests that programs need to focus on all number domains in tandem. It is not appropriate to wait until children reach a certain level of knowledge in one domain before experiences in another domain are introduced. Children’s construction of number knowledge in a specific domain is not dependent on prerequisite knowledge in another domain, but is dependent on being able to take advantage of a range of experiences in a given domain. Assisting children with arithmetic difficulties is complex, but teachers who are equipped with the tools necessary for responding to the diverse needs of individuals who have not previously thrived when learning arithmetic, are able to provide children with the type of learning opportunities and experiences that will enable them to thrive and extend their mathematical understanding further.
Address for Correspondence
Dr Ann Gervasoni, Australian Catholic University – Ballarat Campus, 1200 Mair St, Ballarat, VIC 3350, Australia E-mail: Ann.Gervasoni@acu.edu.au Professor Peter Sullivan, Monash University, Clayton VIC 3800, Australia E-mail: Peter.Sullivan@education.monash. edu.au
Board of Studies (2000). Curriculum and Standards Framework II: Mathematics. Carlton, Victoria: Author. Bobis, J. & Gould, P. (1999). The mathematical achievement of children in the Count Me In Too program. In J.M. Truran & K.M. Truran (Eds.), Making the difference (Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Conference of the Mathematics Research Group of Australasia (pp. 84–90). Adelaide: MERGA. Boulton-Lewis, G. (1996). Representations of place value knowledge and implications for teaching addition and subtraction. In J. Mulligan & M. Mitchelmore (Eds.), Children’s number learning: A research monograph of MERGA/AAMT (pp. 75–88). Adelaide: Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers. Clarke, D. (2001). Understanding, assessing and developing young children’s mathematical thinking: Research as powerful tool for professional growth. In J. Bobis B. Perry & M. Mitchelmore (Eds.), Numeracy and beyond: Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (Vol. 1, pp. 9–26). Sydney: MERGA. Clarke, D., Cheeseman, J., Gervasoni, A., Gronn, D., Horne, M., McDonough, A., Montgomery, P., Roche, A., Sullivan, P., Clarke, B. & Rowley, G.
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Gervasoni. 20–33.. Department of Education Employment and Training (2001). (1999). Washington: National Academy Press. J. (1998). Teaching Mathematics in New Times: Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp. How well are we raising our children in the North Metropolitan Region? Perth: Population Health Program. Elkins. & Stafford. P. M.. Martland.. In C.. (2003). & Phillips. Mousley. (2000). Paper presented at the International Conference on Mathematics Teacher Education. Developing Guidelines for Teachers Helping Students Experiencing Difficulty in Learning Mathematics. (1988). In J. Melbourne: Department of Education. Adelaide: Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers. Melbourne: Australian Catholic University. Nichols.). Children’s counting types: Philosophy. J. Fremantle. Milton. M. (1997). (Eds. Grootenboer. Cobb. (2000). 275–282). In J. (1999). (2000). 373–388. (pp. Hart. Employment and Training. J. K. Steffe. (1997).). L. (1983). Ginsburg. D. Shonkoff. J. & Mitchelmore. Rivera. Kanes. Taipei. New York: Praeger. K . Unpublished PhD thesis. A. New York: Macmillan. Mitchelmore (Eds. Owens. (2000). pp. Bana & A. theory. Early numeracy interview booklet. B. Private provider services for students with learning difficulties. Children’s Number Learning: A Research Monograph of MERGA/AAMT (pp. (1992). J. J. D.S. Fuson. R.P. 63. Research on whole number addition and subtraction. R. von Glasersfeld. Using growth-points profiles to identify Grade 1 students who are at risk of not learning school mathematics successfully. In P. 701–708). Canberra. From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Rohl & C. Rivalland. Richards. MA: Harvard University Press. Goos & E. S. Taiwan. Chinnappan. Mind in society: The development of higher mental processes. New York: Springer-Verlag. S. Wright. Bundoora. Exploring an intervention strategy for six ans seven year old children who are vulnerable in learning school mathematics. Louden. Children’s representations of multiplication and division word problems.. L. Gervasoni. In W. Mathematics education beyond 2000. (1996). 2–19.P.Assessing and teaching children who have difficulty learning arithmetic (2002). A. M. 1. E. Greaves.K. & von Glasersfeld. 243–275). Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning (pp. Cambridge.A. Queensland: Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia. Sullivan. P. 496–503). Mulligan & M. Brinkman. July. Chapman (Eds. & Blackmore.. In D. Van Kraayenoord (Eds. La Trobe University. E. & McClain. & Baxter. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Cobb. London: Paul Chapman Publishing Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 51 . Early Numeracy Research Project Final Report. P. & Zevenbergen. J. Framework for elementary school space mathematics (discussion paper). Construction of arithmetical meanings and strategies. 135–156). Exceptional Children. Brisbane. 30(1). Greaves. WA: MERGA. An overview of a research-based framework for assessing and teaching early number learning.. & Cobb. D. R. (2004).). L. The effects of an innovative approach to mathematics on academically low-achieving students in mainstreamed settings. Warren (Eds. S. P. Woodward. Chan. Wright. M. House. and application.). Mathematics education and students with learning disabilities: Introduction to the special series. (2006). Journal of Learning Disabilities. J. (1997). (1978). D. H. Mapping the territory: Primary Students with Learning Difficulties: Literacy and Numeracy (Vol. Early Numeracy: Assessment for teaching and intervention. 30(1). Journal of Learning Disabilities.S. & Gould. A. 163–184). R. Vygotsky. P. Mulligan. North Metropolitan Heath Service. Zevenbergen & M. Mathematical learning disabilities: A view from developmental psychology. Supporting teachers’ learning in social and institutional contexts. Proceedings of the29th Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp.). Steffe. J. K. Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia. H. L..). Grouws (Ed.
tens facts. and other known facts are evident. build to next ten. refers to individual items only. Count all (two collections). Ongoing assessment by the teacher during class will provide important further information for this purpose. To find the total in a multiple group situation. strategies such as near doubles. 5s. interpret and order single digit numbers.10s to given target. Confidently counts a collection of around 20 objects. interpret & order numbers beyond 1000. chooses suitably from count-back. Given a range of tasks (including multi-digit numbers). write. and applies counting skills in practical tasks. but is not yet able to reliably count a collection of that size. This should not be taken as an indication of “no knowledge” or “no understanding”. 52 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Given an addition or subtraction problem. and ordering single digit numbers. Counting group items as ones. write. fact families and intuitive strategies are evident. 5s. and ordering threedigit numbers. Counting Not apparent. Counts all to find the total of two collections. Reading. Reading. Not yet able to read. and 10s to a given target. counts by 2s. writing. Given non-zero starting points. and 10s. and 10s. writing. Can read. Count back/count down to/count up from. Can read. Rote counting. adding 9. but involve increasingly complex reasoning and understanding. and ordering twodigit numbers. Strategies for addition and subtraction Not apparent. 5s. Not yet able to combine & count 2 collections of objects. interpret and order 3-digit numbers. Counting from 0 by 2s. Can read. writing. interpreting. knows numbers before and after a given number. count-down-to & count-up-from strategies. interpreting. Counting by 1s (forward/backward. Place Value Not apparent. but rather as an indication of a lack of evidence of “1”. Extending and applying counting skills. before/after). Given an addition or subtraction problem. Count on. ● Student understanding may be reported as a “0”. Reading. fact families. Not yet able to create and count the total of several small groups. write. interpret and order single digit numbers. Basic strategies (doubles. strategies such as doubles. adding 10. Can extend and apply knowledge of place value in solving problems. A count forward and backwards from various starting points between 1 and 100. interpreting. Not yet able to say sequence of number names to 20. build to next ten. Rote counts the number sequence to at least 20.Ann Gervasoni & Peter Sullivan Appendix A: Early numeracy research project assessment framework Growth Points for the number domains Notes ● Growth points are not necessarily hierarchical. Counting collections. Can read. interpret and order two-digit numbers. In subtraction contexts. Extending and applying place value knowledge. writing. write. commutativity. 5s. using the appropriate strategies and a clear understanding of key concepts. can solve them mentally. Counting from x (where x 0) by 2s. Derived strategies (near doubles. Can count from 0 by 2s. tens facts. Extending and applying addition and subtraction using basic. write. Reading. and ordering numbers beyond 1000. Counts on from one number to find the total of two collections. ● It must be emphasised that conclusions drawn in relation to placing students at levels within this framework are based on a 30-minute (approx. including variable starting points. Strategies for Multiplication and Division Not apparent. adding 9.) interview only. other known facts). Counts from non-zero starting points by any 1-digit number. commutativity. interpreting. intuitive strategies). derived and intuitive strategies. adding 10.
Basic. derived and intuitive strategies for division. Can solve a range of division problems using strategies such as fact families and building up from known facts. Can solve a range of multiplication and division problems (including multidigit numbers) in practical contexts. Models all objects to solve multiplicative and sharing situations. Basic. derived and intuitive strategies for multiplication. skip counting and building up from known facts. Extending and applying multiplication and division. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 53 . Can solve a range of multiplication problems using strategies such as commutativity. Abstracting multiplication and division. Solves multiplication and division problems where objects are not all modelled or perceived.Assessing and teaching children who have difficulty learning arithmetic Modelling multiplication and division (all objects perceived).
M ULTI-DIGIT ADDITION and subtraction is an important aspect of number sense and mental computation (Anghileri. . When asked to count back from 52. pupils had difficulty continuing after 326. These tools include assessment tasks to inform intervention. As well. 99. . Studies have found sequence-based strategies to be more successful. 1998). . . 48. This paper focuses on some of the assessment tasks which enable assessment of knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers. this topic is important because it provides a basis for more advanced arithmetic. .and fourthgraders (8. Thus teen numbers in the hundreds (316) presented particular difficulties. Pupils had difficulty with locating the numbers 50. and to correlate with more robust arithmetic knowledge. 101. set out relevant diagnostic assessment tasks. 100. 3. 30. . This report draws on results from a three-year project which has the goal of developing pedagogical tools for intervention in the number learning of low-attaining third. This article draws from a current three-year project focusing on the development of pedagogical tools to support intervention in the number learning of low-attaining third. Specifically. at even intervals of Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 © The British Psychological Society 2007 54 .Assessing pupil knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers David Ellemor-Collins & Robert Wright Abstract Research on children’s mental strategies for multidigit addition and subtraction identifies two categories of strategy.graders (8. Pupils had difficulty saying the number that is ten less than 306. and using the sequential structure of numbers. and can be modeled with base-ten materials. 20. describe the range of low-attaining pupils’ responses to those tasks. When asked to count back by tens from 336.to 10-year-olds). ‘52. The paper will: 1. The decade numbers (10. 2000. These tools include schedules of diagnostic assessment tasks and instructional procedures. They can be modelled as jumps on an empty number line. 49. Studies also suggest that sequence-based strategies and sequential structure are not explicitly developed in many primary mathematics classrooms. .to 10-year-olds). and so on’. this number sequence consists of a sequence of decades. The report provides insight into assessing knowledge of sequential structure and argues that this is important basic number knowledge. review literature relevant to the sequential structure of numbers. and 4. which can be further organised in a sequence of hundreds. Sequential structure of numbers This paper discusses low-attaining pupils’ knowledge and use of what we call the ‘sequential structure of numbers’. Tasks and pupils’ responses are described in detail. 62 and 98 on a number line on which zero and 100 were marked. Collections-based strategies involve partitioning numbers into tens and ones. Developing significant knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers provides an important basis for multi-digit addition and subtraction (Beishuizen & Anghileri. Sequence-based strategies involve keeping one number whole. 3. 25. The report focuses on four groups of assessment tasks that collectively enable detailed documenting of pupils’ knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers. . 51.) are reference points in the sequence. Thompson & Smith. By ‘sequential structure of numbers’ we refer to the decade-based structures in the linear sequence 1. Some examples follow. 2. 2. 40. particularly among low-attaining pupils. pupils said. elaborate the term ‘sequential structure of numbers’. . 1999).and fourth.
Fuson et al. The standard example of a collectionsbased strategy is the ‘split’ strategy. ‘20. 1995. 21.. Beishuizen & Treffers. Yackel. 1998. Collections-based strategies use collections-based structures (Fuson et al. but when then asked how many boxes of ten she could fill. 1997. three before 60. use her knowledge of collections-based structure to recognize 6 tens in 63. 2001. and to make steps and hops in the number sequence (Fuson et al. Rhodes. 1999). adding (or subtracting) separately with the tens and the ones. 80. 1997. Treffers. 1997. may better support number sense and conceptual understanding of multidigit numbers. Hiebert & Wearne. or 71 and 81. Yackel. 2001). Heirdsfield. 2001. 21–30 is blue etc. 57 can be constructed as fifty and seven. These involve thinking of numbers in terms of collections of ones. research and curriculum reforms in a range of countries highlight a renewed emphasis on mental computation with multidigit numbers (Beishuizen & Anghileri. Sowder. Thompson & Smith. Cobb et al. or 10 after 47.Assessing pupil knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers ten.. 70 and 13 make 83’. (1997) suggest that an advanced understanding of multi-digit addition and subtraction requires an integration of sequence-based and collections-based strategies. 22. 1999. 1998. 55 Literature review Emphasis on mental computation In the last 15 years. Split involves partitioning both numbers into tens and ones. For example. Referring to the sequential structure of numbers. Thompson. for example. Treffers & Buys. Ruthven. 1997). 7 and 6 are 13. The standard example of a sequencebased strategy is the ‘jump’ strategy. Van Putten & Van Mulken.. Beishuizen & Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . 1998). 1997. For example. an advanced pupil asked to add 5 doughnuts to 58 doughnuts might use a sequence-based strategy. McIntosh. Thompson & Smith. 28. hundreds and so on. and three more make 83. Classroom settings such as base-ten blocks are linked to the use of collections-based structures and strategies (Beishuizen. which is more efficient than split in this case. 11–20 is red. A pupil might add 57 and 26 using split by reasoning as follows: ‘50 and 20 are 70. is always ten steps apart. Foxman & Beishuizen. Reys & Reys. . jumping through 60 to 63. 79. 29. Each decade follows the same pattern as. a pupil might add 57 and 26 using jump by reasoning as follows: ‘57 and ten is 67. Cooper. We can also describe ‘collections-based’ structures in multidigit numbers. research projects in several countries focused on pupils’ informal mental strategies for multi-digit addition and subtraction (Beishuizen. 1997. 2002. 1993). 1999). & Irons. rather than formal written algorithms. 1997. Cobb et al. 30’. Mental computation can also stimulate the development of numerical reasoning and flexible. For example. By the neat symmetry in this sequence. Anghileri. Foxman & Beishuizen. 1998. Yackel. Jump involves keeping the first number whole and adding (or subtracting) the second via a series of jumps. Classroom use of settings such as a number line that highlights the decades or a bead string with the decades demarked by colour (1–10 is blue. 1996. 1991). An early emphasis on mental strategies.’ Researchers note that such sequence-based strategies depend on knowledge of sequential structures to jump by ten. 2001. seven after 50.) are linked to pupil use of sequential structure and sequence-based strategies (Klein. 57 can be regarded as one after 56.. Mental strategies: ‘sequence-based’ and ‘collections-based’ In response to the emphasis on mental computation. and finally recombining the tens and ones subtotals. tens. . 1997. or as 7 ones and 5 tens. 1992. three more is 78. . Treffers & Buys. Brown. and support development of important connections to related knowledge (Askew. Wiliam & Johnson. 2001). Several studies described two main categories of strategies – sequence-based and collections-based (e. Fuson et al.g.. and ten more is 77. a pair of numbers such as 18 and 28. 2001). 1992. efficient computation (Anghileri.
It is likely that this denies them an integrated approach to multi-digit addition and subtraction. 1997). 2001).. 1992). 1993.. Importantly. Studies comparing the use of split and jump strategies found that split led to more difficulty developing independence from concrete materials (Beishuizen. suggesting a heavier load on working memory (Wolters. In summary.. Assessment task groups and responses As part of the project (referred to earlier in this article).. A common difficulty with multi-digit addition and subtraction arises for pupils when they separate the digits in the tens place from the digits in the ones place and do not adequately regroup. jump strategies were much more successful (Klein et al. including recognising efficient short-cuts and making adaptations for unfamiliar problems (McIntosh et al. 2001. 56 Beishuizen. whereas success with jump mainly requires knowing how to jump ten from any number (Beishuizen. These results were confirmed by Foxman (2002). this is due to ‘the underlying mental representation of the number row up to 100’ (1997). 1998. 1991. 2002). 2001). 57 26 is found to be ‘73’ or even ‘713’.to 10year-olds) from a broad demographic range across the state of Victoria. Resnick. 1998. Further. 1993). Advantages of sequence-based strategies Jump strategies can develop as abbreviations of pupils’ informal counting strategies (Beishuizen & Anghileri.David Ellemor-Collins & Robert Wright Infrequency of sequence-based strategies among low-attaining pupils Researchers have found that low-attaining pupils tend to use split strategies.. Confused responses using split suggest the collectionsbased structure offers a problematic representation of subtraction tasks (Fuson et al. 1998).. more procedural and conceptual confusion (Klein et al. Broers & Knoppert. Success with split requires strong number sense and subtle insight into the procedure itself. and were selected for the study based on low results in screenEducational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Foxman & Beishuizen. indicating the development of knowledge of collectionsbased structure (Beishuizen. Thus it is unlikely that these pupils can advance to integrated sequence-collections-based strategies which. pupils with arithmetic difficulties tend not to develop sequential structure and sequence-based strategies such as jump. That is. Beishuizen and colleagues found that pupils made significantly more errors when using split strategies than when using jump strategies. The pupils were in third and fourth grades (8. 204 low-attaining pupils were interviewed twice during the school year to assess their number knowledge. even within a group of pupils identified as low-attaining. development of sequential structure and strategies might resolve a number of typical multi-digit difficulties prevalent with collections-based strategies. 1998) and slower response times. Menne. and access to the preferred strategies of arithmetically successful pupils. is important for number sense and mental computation. 1997.. Following the view that pupils’ knowledge should build on their informal strategies (Anghileri. Studies indicate that pupils more readily adapt the jump strategy to make efficient computation choices. These difficulties arise in the case of split strategies but do not arise in the case of jump strategies (Beishuizen & Anghileri. 1989). For example. using the sequential structure of number readily supports strategic insight into computation tasks. Research also suggests that many low-attaining pupils do not develop the strategy of jumping by tens and thus may not develop sequence-based structures (Beishuizen. 1993. Fuson et al. Developing flexibility with strategies An important goal in improving multidigit number sense is flexibility with strategies. According to Beishuizen et al. 1990). some researchers recommend teaching jump strategies (Klein et al. Cobb. 1998). we would argue. 1993). Olive.. Subtraction tasks are a source of particular difficulties in multidigit arithmetic. Beishuizen et al. and the potential confusions of subtraction using a split strategy are well documented. 1997).
2. ten hundred’ ‘102. at least in the case of low-attaining pupils. 49. Examples ‘Count by tens. Number word sequences by tens. . I’ll tell you when to stop. That’s all I know. . 109. ^ 49. 990. we describe the range of lowattaining pupils’ responses and difficulties.’ Stop at 104. . ^ 199. 49. 51. 109. Wright. Similarly for bridging 40. Task group 2: Number word sequences by tens Focus Number word sequences by tens. 89. 98 . . . forwards and backwards. .’ Stop at 95. . . 300. In this paper. . and link these chains incorrectly when going backwards (Skwarchuk & Anglin. they are aware of separated chains such as 41–49 and 51–59. 1000. 88 . Incrementing and decrementing by ten. For each. ‘Say the number that comes just before 100’. .’ Stop at 113. 198 . where pupils responded correctly to these tasks. Fuson.’ Table 1: Pupil’s errors in oral number word sequences. 202 . ^ 99. . 201. In the range 100 to 1000. . ‘Count backwards from 103. Examples ‘Count from 97.’ ‘52.g. We use the term ‘task group’ to refer to a group of closely related tasks used to investigate pupils’ knowledge of a specific topic. 2002). . 1000. 199. All of our low-attaining pupils made errors with number word sequences bridging 1000. Younger children’s difficulties in establishing the number word sequence are well documented (e. Bridging 50 or 40 backwards ‘52. ‘Count by tens from 24. Locating numbers. evident from analysis of the videotaped interviews. Number word sequences by ones. on and off the decade. and the interviewer pays close attention to the pupil’s thinking process (Wright. their responses indicated a lack of certitude. 99. 199. . 51.’ ‘42. ‘Say the number that comes just after 109’. . number word before or after. 1000. 40. 210. 1001 . 4. 1001 . 100. 3.’ Bridging 100 ‘98. 201. 1982. 48 . 41. Our conclusion is that the assessment tasks described above are indicative of areas of knowledge that should be explicitly taught. 1994). 202 . 2006). we discuss four task groups we found particularly valuable in assessing pupil knowledge of sequential structure: 1. Low-attaining pupils’ difficulties Table 1 sets out examples of pupils’ errors with number word sequences. omissions are marked with ‘ ’. 48 . 57 Task group 1: Number word sequences by ones Focus Short sequences of number words. Interview assessments were recorded on videotape for later analysis. number word sequence errors were common (Table 1). .’ ‘202.’ Number word after 109: ‘1000’ Bridging 200 ‘198. Errors bridging 50 backwards indicate that the pupils have not fully constructed the number word sequence. In many of the cases Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . ^ 201. in which the pupil is posed number tasks. Rather.’ ‘52. . and bridging decades and hundreds. Martland & Stafford. We have found the persistent errors and uncertainties of these older children striking. dynamic interview was used. 51. I’ll tell you when to stop.’ ‘108. 199. 1100 forwards and backwards. 40. .’ Stop at 120. . 48 . 200. particularly when bridging decade or hundred numbers.’ ‘198.’ ‘198. 101. 50. Richards & Briars.Assessing pupil knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers ing tests. A method involving one to one. Note: Errors are marked in bold. .’ Bridging 110 forwards ‘108. backwards and forwards.
40. Responses included: (a) ‘… 22. Counting by ones. 35. 367. 41. 42. 0? or 10?’. When asked to count by tens from 24. an attempt to skip count by ten from 167 was ‘267. It is clear that knowledge of sequences of tens beyond 100 is a significant extension of knowledge of sequences of tens up to 100. and (b) ‘24. Some were successful but their response involved counting back by 58 ones after 22. This could be laborious and sometimes unsuccessful. 60. All pupils interviewed could produce the sequence of decade numbers ‘10. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . (b) ‘…22. for example. Pupils who could skip count by ten off the decade in the range 1 to 100 experienced difficulties with bridging one hundred or higher hundred numbers. 316. 196. 1’. 45…’. Difficulties in the range 100 to 1000. This is analogous to a common error among younger pupils at decade numbers when counting backward by ones. 20. .g. a pupil would seemed to become aware of the pattern they were producing. 32. . Skip counting by tens on the decade. although some had difficulty in continuing beyond 90. 326. The responses described above are indicative of weaknesses in pupils’ knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers. 43. . and their sequence would become more fluent perhaps curtailing the counting by ones. 197.’.’ . 306. 10. Difficulties with teen numbers. 226. the pupil says. one hundred and-’ then ‘297. 206. for example. 1997) and this results in significant difficulties in saying sequences by tens. 20?’. . but could count by tens from 25 – ‘25. 25.’ Stop at 2. some pupils counted each ten by ones.’ . ‘326. Many pupils had difficulties with teen numbers in the hundreds. Researchers have suggested that pupils can have difficulty producing number word sequences by tens off the decade. 14. . Low-attaining pupils’ responses and difficulties The patterns of number word sequences by tens are inherent in the sequential structure of the base-ten number system. 316. 467’. 30. 316. One pupil could not count by tens from 24. Many pupils could not coordinate the teen numbers with a larger number sequence. . 314. . 312’ (pause). 2’. 30. 42. Sometimes. 39. no. 10. Pupils who erred when skip counting by saying 300 as the number ten less than 410. when counting back from 45. 410. 187. 390. One pupil said ‘177. and (c) ‘… 22. for example saying ‘336. Some pupils could not count by tens from 24.’.’ A few pupils had difficulties with teens when counting back by tens on the decade: (a) ‘70. Another difficulty was discriminating the new hundreds number from the tens number. Indeed. 38 . did not make a corresponding error when skip counting back by ten off the decade but there were difficulties at hundred numbers such as ‘336. This sequence illustrates a persistent difficulty with the teen numbers within the hundreds.’. 380. 10. Cannot count by tens from 24. some of these pupils could count by tens on the decade up to 1000.’ then ‘207. and confusion when bridging 200.David Ellemor-Collins & Robert Wright ‘Count by tens back from 52. . It seems that these pupils’ inability to make sense of the task arises from an unfamiliarity with sequences of tens off the decade compared with sequences of fives and of tens on the decade. . and hence be unable to develop a jump strategy (e. 40’. 60. 20. ‘45. and thus omitting 306. ‘Count by tens from 167. and (c) ‘70. one response was: ‘326. 20. . 44.’ Stop at 237.. . 1993). 300. 50. 420. 304. 297’ corrected to ‘296’. . two hundred and zero. 217.). 186. . 20’ and again ‘24. . 25. When counting by tens back from 52 (52. When counting back by tens from 336. 30. . (b) ‘70. . 60. some pupils had difficulty after 22. Responses included: (a) ‘24. 30. 34. . Irregularities in the names of teens mask their ten-structure (Fuson et al. 12. 176’. Beishuizen. . 4’. 326. When skip counting back by ten on the decade some pupils produced a sequence such as ‘430.’. 15. 30. Jump strategies are derived from these patterns. 12.
● forward across a hundred number: ‘ten more than 195’. ● 3-digit off-the-decade: ‘ten more/less than 356’. 330. Pupils’ responses included: ● ‘I don’t know. ‘Which number is ten less than 306?’ The task of finding ten less than 306 was particularly difficult for many pupils. 356. Ask ‘Which number is ten less than this?’ Similarly for 79. ● Counting back by ones and answering ‘295’. 301. ● Counting back by ones successfully. 217. Thus a pupil who was successful at the third progression (starting from the uppermost progression) was likely to succeed with the tasks at the first two progressions and not succeed with the tasks from the fourth progression onward. for example. ● forward across 1000: ‘ten more than 999’.’ changed to ‘220?’ changed to ‘225’. 187. ● Counting back by ones with an incorrect sequence. and bridging decades and hundreds. Even if they can regard ten more as one increment in a sequence with increments of ten. ● backward across a hundred number: ‘ten less than 306’. one pupil skip counted by tens from 167 successfully: ‘177. 197. Nevertheless. we could say that a pupil who can increment by ten to bridge a hundred number has constructed a sequence-based strategy for the operation of adding ten. 1005. ● Jumping back ten successfully. on and off the decade. 306. the tasks involving incrementing or decrementing by ten are distinct from tasks of skip counting by ten. ‘299’. 304. Progressions in incrementing and decrementing by ten Pupils’ success with tasks involving incrementing or decrementing by ten tended to progress as follows: ● 2-digit off-the-decade: ‘ten more/less than 79’. Pupils might construe the incrementing task as an addition task rather than a task based on a number sequence with increments of ten. 327. 329. 195. but could not solve ten more than 195: ‘one hundred and . Examples Show ‘20’ on a card. 303. Alternatively. . 59 Task group 3: Incrementing and decrementing by 10 Focus Ten more and ten less. ● backward across 1000: ‘ten less than 1005’. Thus they are unable to regard ten more as one increment of a sequence with increments of ten. Ask ‘Which number is ten more than this?’ Similarly for 79. Show ‘30’ on a card. 328. 297’ self-corrected to ‘207. Tasks involving 1000. ‘300’. For example. Some pupils could not increment by ten off the decade at all. but not find ten more than 306. The tasks of (a) incrementing and decrementing by ten and (b) skip counting by ten seemed to be linked in the sense that pupils showed similar levels of advancement in their responses to these task groups. they are apparently unable to increment the sequence from a standing start. . and using fingers to keep track of the ten counts: ‘305. We would regard such pupils as having knowledge of the tens structure of the number sequence. Relationship to knowledge of the tens structure of the number sequence We were interested in whether pupils could solve the tasks in Task Group 3 without counting by ones or trying to use an algorithm for addition or subtraction. when the increment involves bridging a hundred Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Difficulties with the teen number sequence were also evident in these tasks. There was incongruence in pupils’ responses on these two task groups. number. were especially difficult for virtually all of the pupils. 356.Assessing pupil knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers We believe it is important to address these weaknesses through intervention. 326!’. .’ ● Incorrect counting: ‘210?’. that is ten more than 999 and ten less than 1005. a pupil could find ten more than 356. 999.’. . 302.
Pupils’ difficulties with this task indicate a lack of knowledge of 0 100 Figure 1: Blank number line for ‘locating numbers’ task 60 . Helen (see Figure 2) does find 50 as ‘half way’.’ Similarly mark and label 25. He marks 98 just short of 100 but does not use 100 as the reference to locate 98. But she does not curtail counting by ones. Helen is using an aspect of the number structure. To locate the numbers efficiently requires using ideas such as: ● 50 at half-way. Rather. and locates 62 just past 60. 62. he counts by fives. She does count on from 50. Helen again counts by ones. which is ten after 50. but the steps are too big. Low-attaining pupils’ responses and difficulties A locating number task requires knowledge of the number sequence. 98 is probably located to be near 100. and revealing of their number sequence knowledge. We have found pupils’ responses to be interesting. and a line on paper with only the endpoints 0 and 100 labeled (see Figure 1). He locates 98 after counting to 95. but with a weak sense of the measure of the 2-step gap. Example Pupil is given a pen. Further. and she emphasises the ‘60’ point along the way. Her 25 ends up almost at 50. ● 98 at two steps before 100. many of the pupils did not count back by ones to solve this task. but is not checking against another aspect. He does not count by ones. and ● 62 just after 60. Renee’s response. sequential structure and also a lack of knowledge of linear measure. It would seem there is some sense of global location: 50 is placed at half-way. Apparently these pupils could not construct a representation of this problem that was embedded in the number sequence. but doesn’t regard the decades as reference points. His approach is analogous to counting-all rather than counting-on to solve an addition task. is typical. 25 placed perhaps from a sense of decades. A weaker response can be very revealing. ● 25 at half-way to 50. that is. Perhaps more striking is that. shown in Figure 2. 98 as ‘8 more than 90’. But to locate 25.David Ellemor-Collins & Robert Wright To solve this task by jumping back ten requires knowing the decade before 301 is the 290s. Those pupils who attempted to count back on this task were consistently more successful on other tasks involving incrementing by ten than pupils who did not attempt to count back. Four examples are discussed below. but he does not simply count-on from 50—he begins afresh from five each time. Pupil is asked to ‘Mark where 50 is on the line. To locate 62. they lacked knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers. or from half of 50. that is. Both Helen and Nate frequently counted by ones on their fingers to solve addition Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Task group 4: Locating numbers on a number line Focus Locating numbers on a linear representation of the number sequence from 0 to 100. She locates 98 two steps back from 100. she marks all the ones from 0 to 25. in contrast to Helen. Nate finds each of his numbers by counting and marking fives (see Figure 2). She does not seem to have a global or embedded sense of the structures of the sequence. She does not count in tens. and it is not clear whether she regards this as problematic.’ and then ‘Label that as 50. Nate finds both 62 and 98 by counting by fives from five. Many of these pupils did not know this or could not apply this knowledge to solve the task. showing some appreciation of how the number structure can support her solution. 98. He does seem concerned to line up the successive counts to 50 at the same 50 mark. though she does emphasise her ‘20’ point. To do the task well also requires knowledge of linear measure and proportion which may be somewhat distinct from number sequence knowledge.
counting by fives from zero Nate on post-assessment Figure 2: Locating numbers on a number line tasks. When assessed with the locating number task after the intervention period. without explicit instruction on locating numbers.Assessing pupil knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers Renee Helen. a focus on sequential structure exemplifies an informed approach 61 . Helen was no longer marking ones. and she located 25 appropriately. and neither could skip count by tens off the decade. Conclusion We claim that the sequential structure of numbers is important basic number knowledge. his knowledge of linear measure and proportion has also advanced. It is striking that many third and fourth grade pupils (aged 8 to 10 years) are not successful on the assessment tasks described in this report. and can enable learning over time to be documented. We advocate that pupils’ number learning should include a focus on number word sequences up to 1000. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Thus. can differentiate levels of understanding. Interestingly. additions using a jump strategy. skip counting and incrementing by tens off the decade. Their responses on this Task Group indicate a lack of knowledge of structures in the number sequence. Both of these pupils received intensive individual intervention instruction after these assessments. This Task Group is very useful because it can reveal knowledge of number sequence structure. The instruction did not focus on tasks of locating numbers but included a significant focus on counting by ones and tens. In our view. counting by ones Nate. and he is no longer working from one. This learning that Nate demonstrated in his post-assessment can be attributed to the instruction that focused on recording jump strategy additions on a number line. and on recording on an empty number line. He shows a clear use of decade structure. His pen moves in jumps of ten and one. and locating numbers in the range 1 to 100. his broad development of number sequence knowledge has made significant differences to his responses on the task group of locating numbers. Nate’s post-assessment response is shown in Figure 2.
& Anghileri. C. M. 2001). the authors acknowledge the contributions of Gerard Lewis and Cath Pearn (partner investigators) to this project. P. Menne. M. Brown. (2000). 119–130). Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. Importantly. London: Continuum.Wright@scu. such as split (Beishuizen. Yackel. PO Box 157. 2005). Our study accords with this. D. 13(2). 294–323. (2001). As well. We are also developing activities targeting the pupils’ development of the related sequence-based mental strategies for addition and subtraction. (1993).E. Lismore NSW 2480. V. Whitson (Eds. M. We are developing instructional activities for this topic in our current research project with lowattaining pupils. 24(4). Van Putten. M.. F. Stafford & Stanger. (1997). Reconstructing elementary school mathematics. D.. the authors express their sincere thanks to the teachers. University of London. Which mental strategies in the early number curriculum? A comparison of British ideas and Dutch views. (1997). if teachers choose to emphasise jump. K. Gravemeijer. Beishuizen. Cobb. McClain. J. J.. pupils will require a co-development of knowledge of sequential structure (Menne. 2001).. Buckingham: Open University Press. Studies suggest that low-attaining pupils can have more success with sequencebased addition strategies. Beishuizen.P. Mental arithmetic and strategy use with indirect number problems up to one hundred. Teaching number sense. 7(1). M. mental strategies and standard algorithms.David Ellemor-Collins & Robert Wright to tackling numeracy difficulties (Dowker. Situated Cognition Theory: 62 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . J.). Different approaches to mastering mental calculation strategies. (1991).. Learning and Instruction. 3–22. Address for correspondence School of Education.. We recommend that low-attaining pupils be assessed for knowledge of sequential structure. Rhodes. Intuitive approaches.edu. & Whitenack. 1993). E.). In J. In J. regardless of choice of arithmetic strategy (jump or split) our curriculum should recognise the importance of sequential structure as a basic aspect of number. P. Kirshner & J. 519–538. Anghileri (Ed.au References Anghileri. Beishuizen. Principles and practices in arithmetic teaching – Innovative approaches for the primary classroom. Anghileri. British Educational Research Journal. Effective teachers of numeracy: Report of a study carried out for the Teacher Training Agency. 1997. pupils and schools participating in the project. than with collection-based strategies. (1998). J. trialling. London: King’s College. In D. Acknowledgements The authors gratefully acknowledge the support for this project from the Australian Research Council under grant LP0348932 and from the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria. Martland. Mental strategies and materials or models for addition and subtraction up to 100 in Dutch Second Grades. 2002) and jumping on an empty number line (Menne. K. Studies suggest that weakness in these sequence-based tasks is characteristic of lowattaining pupils (Beishuizen et al. 24(3). Southern Cross University. Askew. There has been considerable discussion of pupil and curriculum choices between collections-based and sequence-based strategies for addition and subtraction (Beishuizen. Beishuizen. & Van Mulken. Wiliam. 2001). Principles and practices in arithmetic teaching (pp. (1997).A. 87–106. & Johnson. Anghileri (Ed. Focus on Learning Problems in Mathematics. M. Mathematizing and symbolizing: the emergence of chains of signification in one first-grade classroom. Finally. Buckingham: Open University Press. Cobb. The four assessment task groups discussed in this report can inform detailed assessment of pupils’ number sequence knowledge. flexible incrementing and decrementing by tens and ones (Wright. Australia E-mail: Bob. and that intervention include explicit attention to development of this knowledge. (2001). such as jump. for example..). 2001). M. Further..
semiotic and neurobiological perspectives (pp. In M. Buckingham: Open University Press. Martland. Cognition and Instruction. & Anglin. Broers. Stafford. Fuson. 21–42. neuroscience and education. & Beishuizen. Utrecht: Freudenthal Institute. M. Jumping ahead: an innovative teaching program. Ruthven. Flavel (Eds. Darwin: Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia. 51(1–2). Thompson.J. Analysis of arithmetic for mathematics teaching (pp. Educational Studies in Mathematics. A. W. Realistic mathematics education in primary school (pp. McIntosh. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 63 . Reys. In J. Anghileri (Ed.J.). Journal of Educational Psychology. I. J. Hillsdale. Utrecht University..P.B.J. (2006). Children learn mathematics. Heirdsfield. 41–69. 94(1). (1991). Teaching and learning early number. Foxman.K. Richards. B. Treffers.A. 107–125. M. D. Wright. E. Olive. Wright. Fuson. (2005). 21–56). Mental arithmetic: Effects of calculation procedure and problem difficulty on solution latency. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Foxman.. (2001). A study of the numerical development of 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds. & Smith. & Wearne. Carpenter. Teaching number: Advancing children’s skills and strategies. Mental calculation methods used by 11-year-olds in different attainment bands: A reanalysis of data from the 1987 APU Survey in the UK. London: Paul Chapman Publishing. J. R. (2001).C.) (1997). In G. Children’s aquisition of the English cardinal number words: A special case of vocabulary development. 4–9. (1996). Progress in Cognitive development: Vol. Children’s number sequences: An explanation of Steffe’s constructs and an extrapolation to rational number of arithmetic.J. R..). For the Learning of Mathematics. D. & R. In L. 251–283. 130–162. Olivier. Early numeracy: Assessment for teaching and intervention (2nd ed. K... Brainerd (Ed. H. A. Skwarchuk. written. Individual differences in arithmetic: Implications for psychology. 95–106). (2002). 1–51). R. Wright.M. In C. Wolters. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.). J. 162–169..S. Instruction. In J.). K. (1989). C. Grade 2 and 3– Calculation up to 100. 26. 1 Children’s logical and mathematical cognition (pp. Buckingham: Open University Press. (1999). (1982). A proposed framework for examining basic number sense. (2002). 25–44. The Mathematics Educator.E. Anghileri (Ed. Yackel. A. T. 14(3).C. & Knoppert. 443–464. Hove. D. 195–202). & Buys. 20–30.J. D. Mahwah. (1995). & Reys. J. understanding. & Stanger. 49. van den Heuvel-Panhuizen (Ed. & Treffers. A. 11(1). (1998). The use of mental. Buckingham: Open University Press. (2001). J. A. (Ed. The acquisition and elaboration of the number word sequence. In B. Wearne. Sowder. & Briars. G.. UK: Psychology Press. and calculator strategies of numerical computation by upper primary students within a ‘calculator aware’ number curriculum. 24(1).. & Stafford. (2001). Principles and practices in arithmetic teaching – Innovative approaches for the primary classroom (pp. G. P. Dowker. Educational Studies in Mathematics. The Netherlands: Freudenthal Institute. Proceedings of the eighteenth annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp. A. British Educational Research Journal. L. Human. 44. Beishuizen. K. T. 5–7. Didactical background of a mathematics program for primary education. Mental calculation strategies for the addition and subtraction of 2-digit numbers (Report for the Nuffield Foundation). (1994). J. Untaught mental calculation methods used by 11-year-olds. Making sense of numbers. (1998).).).T. Hiebert. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. (1992). A. R. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. (1997). J. K. Newcastle upon Tyne: University of Newcastle upon Tyne. (1999). Children’s conceptual structures for multidigit numbers and methods of multidigit addition and subtraction. American Psychologist. Thompson.. 28. A. Atweh & S.). Klein. Developing mathematical knowledge. Menne. S. (1990). M. & Fennema.Assessing pupil knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers Social. M. Hattrup (Eds..). Putnam. Resnick. J. J. (2002). Mathematics in School. Principles and practices in arithmetic teaching – Innovative approaches for the primary classroom (pp. Perspectives on arithmetic from classroom-based research in the United States of America. & Irons.J. Martland.. I.. E. G. 2–44. 29(4). Hiebert. (1992). & Beishuizen. D. A. Murray. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education.. 151–233). Streefland (Ed.J. 12. The empty number line in Dutch second grades: Realistic versus gradual program design. Years 2 and 3 children’s strategies for mental addition and subtraction.. 33–92). 15–31).K. R. Leinhardt. Cooper. F. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. A. New York: Springer-Verlag. Treffers. and skill in multidigit addition and subtraction. Beishuizen.
The programme involved working with children who have been identified by their teachers as having problems with arithmetic. Dehaene. Ginsburg. 2005.What can intervention tell us about arithmetical difficulties? Ann Dowker Abstract 146 children (mean age 6 years 10 months) were included in the Numeracy Recovery intervention programme. 2005. 2003. and understanding of the principles of counting: for example. Baroody & Dowker. such as language and literacy. Riley & Gelman. to standardised test scores. Munn. 1997). to general level of addition performance. Implications of these findings are discussed. and the ability to follow procedures. though the different components often correlate with one another. These children were assessed on nine components of early numeracy. the understanding of concepts. 2005. memory for arithmetical facts. Gross-Tsur & Manor. and received weekly individual intervention (half an hour a week for approximately 30 weeks) in the particular components with which they have been found to have difficulty. and derived fact strategy use showed a negative relationship to test improvement. 1984. 2003).g. Flitman & Grafman. studies of children with arithmetical deficits (Butterworth. that the last number in a count sequence represents the number of objects in the set. 2000) that arithmetical ability is not unitary. derived fact strategies. 2005. 2001). However. 1997. Its broad components include counting. counting includes knowledge of the counting sequence. and that counting a set of objects in different orders will give the same answer (Greeno. Kilpatrick. Swafford & Fundell. 1999. Basso. Each of these broad components has. numerical and verbal presentations of arithmetic problems) were analysed in relation to one another.g. Indefrey. 2005. 1998. addition level predicted both the initial standardised test scores and improvement in these scores. translation between concrete. and functional brain imaging studies 64 T (Castelli. Steinmetz & Kleinschmidt. Rickard. addition level. the children showed significant improvement on three standardised tests. Royer. Garcia. Dowker. Scores on three components (estimation. and to improvements in these scores. Hamon & Dhilil. 2006. Six months after the start of intervention. Weakness in even one component can ultimately take its toll on performance in Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 © The British Psychological Society 2007 . 2005. and in educational policy and practice in the UK and abroad (Askew & Brown. 1992. Geary & Widaman. Moreover. HERE IS a much smaller research base on mathematical development and difficulties than on some other areas of development. Siegler. Spelke. 2001. 1999. Russell & Ginsburg. Delazer. weaknesses in any one of them can occur relatively independently of weaknesses in the others. Campbell. 1999. 1994. studies of patients (Butterworth. Glaser & Butterworth. Stanescu & Tsivkin. 1984. Wharton. Dehaene. there has recently been an increased emphasis on mathematics in cognitive developmental research (e. Jordan & Hanich. in neuroscience (Ansari. Gruber. Butterworth. 2003). 2001. 1997). Pinel. ability to follow counting procedures in counting sets of objects. In particular. educational and factor analytic studies of typically developing children and adults (e. Shalev. Regressions showed few relationships between the components. However. Geary & Hoard. in turn. 1977. 1977. Ginsburg. Lefevre & Kulak. and standardised test scores. a number of narrower components: for example. 1997). Romero. there is by now overwhelming evidence from experimental. Dehaene. Lucas. 2000. Dowker. 1988).
or whether they are relatively independent. in as much as it can provide information about the specific components of arithmetic that have the greatest effect on overall growth. and by investigating whether they have a differential role in predicting test improvements. as arithmetical thinking involves such a wide variety of components. remembering the counting word sequence). 1998) and discussions with teachers about what they considered to be important components of arithmetic. since this depends on the criteria that are used to define ‘difficulty’. 1997) though the proportion that might be described as dyscalculic is much lower than this. 1986) have suggested that it is not possible to establish a strict hierarchy whereby any one component invariably precedes another component. Denvir & Brown. or due to the difficulties sharing a common cause. Moreover. and for practical reasons. the components described here are not seen as a hierarchy. they may come to perceive themselves as ‘no good at maths’ and develop a negative attitude to the subject. by investigating whether they predict standardised test scores similarly or differently. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 The components were selected on the basis of earlier research (Dowker. In addition. has suggested some functional independence between these components. The second aim of the study is to investigate the extent to which different components might contribute independently not only to standardised test scores. 2001.What can intervention tell us about arithmetical difficulties? other components. However. however. This is an important question for theoretical reasons. Several studies (e. they need not always be prerequisites. there are many forms and causes of arithmetical difficulty. due to difficulties in one having an adverse effect on development of others. which were sources of difficulty for children. It is likely that at least 15–20 per cent of the population have difficulties with certain aspects of arithmetic. and failing to perceive and use relationships between different arithmetical processes and problems. The research is based on the Numeracy Recovery Programme (Dowker. which may assume different degrees of importance in different tasks and situations.g.g. the first aim of this study is to investigate whether there is a relationship between scores on the different components of the Numeracy Recovery Programme. word problem solving) while performing poorly at an apparently easier component (e. the study can be used to analyse relationships between the components. they are just specific tests of an overarching general arithmetical ability. in helping us to predict which children are most likely to benefit from a relatively non-intensive intervention. that different components can be more closely linked in children with mathematical difficulties. Thus. A child may perform well at an apparently difficult task (e. partly because difficulty with one component may increase the risk of the child relying exclusively on another component. 2005). and to investigate whether they should indeed be seen as separate multiple components. Many children have difficulties with some or most aspects of arithmetic. sufficient to cause significant practical and educational problems for the individual (Bynner & Parsons.g. and which may need more or different help. when children fail at certain tasks. It is hard to estimate the proportion who have difficulties. as summarised above. 65 . It appears possible. The present paper describes a study of the relationships between components of arithmetic in a group of children selected for having arithmetical difficulties. Since children’s performance in these components was assessed in depth before the interventions took place. an intervention that takes a ‘multiple components’ view of arithmetic. This can be studied by investigating the initial relationships between components. but to the level of improvement in these scores following intervention. Though certain components may frequently form the basis for learning other components. Previous research.
These children are assessed on nine components of early numeracy. The interventions are carried out by the classroom teachers. Analyses To establish whether the arithmetical components were interrelated. Wilcoxon tests showed that all these improvements were significant at the 0. and the WISC Arithmetic subtest (Weschler. 1997). The children receive weekly individual intervention (half an hour a week) in the particular components with which they have been found to have difficulty. 2005). The first two place greatest emphasis on computation abilities and the latter on arithmetical reasoning. 1996). The teachers are released (each teacher for half a day weekly) for the intervention. the WOND Numerical Operations test (Wechsler & Rust. Measures of arithmetical components Arithmetical components were measured using assesments of three selected components of arithmetical ability (derived fact strategy use. New children join the project periodically. The numeracy recovery programme Numeracy Recovery is an intervention based on a ‘multiple components’ view of arithmetic 66 and has been described previously (Dowker.8 initially and 8. whichever is shorter. They included 64 boys and 82 girls. there were two aims. multiple regression analyses were run using the improvement scores on BAS. and so the BAS and WOND were taken as measures of computation and the WISC as a measure of arithmetical reasoning. 101 of the 146 children have been retested over periods of at least a year and have maintained their improvement. The programme has involved working with children who have been identified by their teachers as having problems with arithmetic. To establish whether the arithmetical components contributed to the improvement level. The initial scores on the standardised tests and retest scores after six months of the first 146 children to take part in the project are described here. three separate multiple regression analyses were run with each of the three selected components as outcome measures in turn. which are summarised in Appendices 1 and 2. 2001. 1991). and 8 after six months (the means were 6. 1998. standard deviation 6.45 after six months). 2005). estimation and translation) derived from the programme. Each child remains in the program for 30 weeks.01 level. Outcome measures The subsample of 145 were assessed before and after intervention on the British Abilities Scales Basic Number Skills subtest (Elliott.1 months). or until their teachers feel they no longer need intervention. The median standard scores on the WISC Arithmetic subtest were 7 initially. Ages ranged from five years six months to eight years three months (mean: six years ten months. The median standard scores on the BAS Basic Number Skills subtest were 96 initially and 100 after approximately six months. The median standard scores on the WOND Numerical Operations test were 91 initially and 94 after six months.The three components (described more fully in Appendix 2) were selected because they had already been studied in some detail with unselected groups of children (Dowker. using techniques proposed by the researcher.Ann Dowker Method Sample 146 children who had been included in the Numeracy Recovery programme. Using the intervention to examine the structure of arithmetic As outlined in the introduction. The first was to investigate whether there were relationships between scores on the different components or whether they were relatively independent. 1997. WOND and WISC as outcome measures. The second was to examine the extent to which different components might have contributed inde- Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 .
What can intervention tell us about arithmetical difficulties? pendently to the level of improvement in standardised scores following intervention. The performance of a subsample of children in the intervention group was examined on three selected components of arithmetical ability (derived fact strategy use, estimation and translation) against outcome measures of the standardised tests. The three components (described more fully in Appendix 2) were selected because they had already been studied in some detail with unselected groups of children (Dowker, 1997, 1998, 2005). The children were divided into five levels according to their performance on a mental calculation pre-test. Table 1 gives brief descriptions of the levels, and examples of the problems that could and could not be solved at these levels. In practice, only the first three levels were represented in the present group. and estimate strategies from an unselected sample at the same levels (Dowker, 1998). The figures show that these strategies are used more frequently by children at addition levels 2 and 3 than by children at Addition level 1. Comparison shows that children from the 1998 unselected sample at all three levels used derived fact strategies more often. The mean translation score of the intervention group as a whole was 22.58 (s.d. 9.81). The unselected children studied by Dowker, Gent & Tate (2000) were not divided by performance levels in this way; but the overall average score obtained by 6-year-olds was 32, so on he whole these scores too were higher in the unselected sample.
Relationships among different measures
In order to investigate the independent contributions that different factors made to target measures, entry level multiple regressions were carried out on each of the measures as dependent variable, with the other measures as the predictors. Table 4 shows the results of the regression analyses. Addition Level was included in the analyses because it was a determinant of the precise content of the derived fact strategy and estimation tasks, and it seemed desirable to control for it. As it is an ordinal rather than cardinal score, there could however be doubts as to the appropriateness of its inclusion in a regression. To check for this, the same analyses were carried out with this variable omitted, and results were identical as regards the significance of the other predictors, except that Estimation became a definitely rather than borderline significant predictor of Translation, (beta 0.25; t 2.23; p 0.05) and of course vice versa (beta 0.28; t 2.23; p 0.05). Factors contributing to standardised test scores, and to levels of improvement in these scores. Entry method linear multiple regressions were carried out  with each standardised score at t1 as the dependent variable and Age, Addition Level, Addition Derived Fact 67
Table 2 gives the descriptive statistics for all the variables for 146 children in the subsample. Before the intervention, 37 of these children were at Addition Performance Level 1 (Beginning Arithmetic); 86 at Level 2 (Facts to 10) and 23 at Level 3 (Facts to 25). Table 3 shows the mean number of the three kinds of additive strategies used by children from the intervention group at level 1, 2 and 3 respectively. The table also shows, for comparison purposes, data on derived fact
Problem just within range 2 5 8 23 52 2 3 6 44 39
Problem outside range 5 8 23 52 523 3 6 44 39 168
Beginning arithmetic Facts to 10 Simple facts 2-Digit (no carry) 2-Digit (carry)
Table 1: Levels of arithmetical performance in addition Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2
Ann Dowker n WOND (first score) WOND (second score) WOND improvement BAS (first score) BAS (second score) BAS improvement WISC (first score) WISC (second score) WISC improvement Age at start (months) Addition Level Addition derived fact strategies Estimation Translation 175 146 146 175 146 146 175 146 146 175 175 175 175 175 Mean 90.32 92.79 2.45 95.19 100.38 5.11 6.86 8.33 1.51 80.7 1.94 1.05 4.08 21.9 Standard deviation 10.99 12.34 10.9 11.76 12.45 11.87 2.87 2.5 3.13 6.05 0.67 1.13 2.21 9.93 Range 62 to 123 68 to126 23 to 33 67 to 123 62 to 133 25 to 49 2 to 17 2 to 15 8 to 11 66 to 97 1 to 4 0 to 5 0 to 9 2 to 47
Table 2: Means and standard deviations of test scores
Level 1 Intervention: Number of Derived fact strategies Number of reasonable estimates (out of 9) Translation score Unselected: Number of derived fact strategies Number of reasonable estimates 0.7 1.8 Mean 0.3 Sd 0.6 Mean 1.3
Level 2 Sd 1.2 Mean 1.2
Level 3 Sd 1.1
Table 3: Means and standard deviations of additive strategies by addition performance level for intervention and previous (unselected) samples 68 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2
What can intervention tell us about arithmetical difficulties? Predictor Derived facts Addition level Estimation Translation Age in months Estimation Addition level Derived facts Translation Age in months Translation Addition level Derived facts Estimation Age in months Table 4: Results of regressions on task scores 0.25 0.05 0.21 0.27 2.2 0.43 1.94 2.47 P n.s. P P 0.06 (*) 0.05* 0.05* 0.09 0.09 0.26 0.04 0.67 0.78 1.93 0.32 n.s. n.s. P n.s. 0.06(*) 0.17 0.1 0.06 0.8 1.32 0.78 0.43 0.6 n.s. n.s. n.s n.s. Beta t Significance
Strategies, Estimation, and Translation as the predictors and  the improvement in score (t2 – t1) as the dependent variable and Age, t1 standardised scores, Addition Level, Addition Derived Fact Strategies, Estimation, and Translation as the predictors.
The children with arithmetical difficulties appeared in general to show some weaknesses in the components investigated: derived fact strategies, estimation and translation, as compared with unselected children in other studies. The groups may not be directly comparable, due to the time lapse and changes in the educational system since the studies of the unselected children; but the figures suggest that the children in the intervention group used on average somewhat fewer derived fact strategies and make fewer reasonable estimates than the unselected children, and that this was especially true of those at the higher addition performance levels. Perhaps Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2
children at the higher addition performance levels were only regarded by their teachers as arithmetically weak and needing intervention if they did have additional weaknesses in aspects of arithmetical reasoning. The study of unselected children’s translation (Dowker, 2005) did not assess the children’s addition performance level; but their translation performance as a group appeared to be somewhat better than that of the children with arithmetical difficulties. It should be noted, however, that not all children in the latter group performed poorly in the components investigated; that derived fact strategy use and estimation were often quite good; and that their translation performance in particular seemed better than that which would have been predicted by Hughes (1986), who found extreme translation difficulties even in unselected 9-year-olds. Standardised test scores are more related to some specific components of arithmetic 69
47 0. 0.03 0.05* 0.s.s.01** 0.01** 0.s.13 0.11 0.01** n.s.3 0. 0. n.6 0.43 0. improvements in 0.41 5.03 P P 0.21 test 3.71 1.14 3.13 0.68 2.2 3 0.01** n. 0. 0.24 0. n.6 P P P P 0.74 4.05* 0.05 0.01** 0.21 0. n.01 0.07 0.s.01** Beta t Significance Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 .44 2.6 1. n.19 P 0.Ann Dowker Predictor WOND (first score) Addition level Derived facts Estimation Translation Age in months WOND (improvement) Addition level Derived facts Estimation Translation Age in months WOND (first score) BAS (first score) Addition level Derived facts Estimation Translation Age in months BAS (improvement) Addition level Derived facts Estimation Translation Age in months BAS (first score) WISC (first score) Addition level Derived facts Estimation Translation Age in months Table 5: Results of regressions on these scores (Continued on next page) 70 standardised 0.78 0.0 2.22 2.s.66 2.94 0.4 0.s.08 0.s.16 0.s.s.9 4.33 0.07 (*) n.31 0.01** 0. 0.05 0.5* n.81 P P P P P 0.27 0.25 0.86 2.08 0.01** n.78 1.22 5.33 1.43 1.01** n.81 scores and P P 0.05* 0.39 0.25 0.24 1.27 0.s. n.s.s. n.85 0.09 0. n.
05 0 0. Dowker (1998) found that children who are significantly better at derived fact strategy use than at exact calculation (whether or not they have actual calculation difficulties) are Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 71 .s. With regard to improvements in the WOND and BAS tests. 0. This is not surprising. 1998. Initial scores were negative predictors of improvement in all three tests.0 P n.1 0.s. One is that.s.15 0.02 0. It is intriguing that different components of arithmetic appear to play different roles in predicting improvement. n. however a positive independent predictor of improvement (even after partialling out the initial score on the standardised test) and Derived Fact Strategy score was a negative independent predictor. Addition Level was. n. A second possible explanation is that the association is secondary to some other characteristics that are associated with relative strengths in derived fact strategy use.01** Beta t Significance Table 5: (continued) Results of regressions on standardised test scores and improvements in these scores than to others. 2005) show a positive relationship between derived fact strategy use and other aspects of arithmetical performance. n.s. Neither Estimation nor Derived Fact Strategies was an independent predictor of any test scores. in the case of children with arithmetical difficulties. perhaps because the existence of useful compensatory strategies reduces the need and motivation to acquire conventional strategies. as the lower the initial score. There are at least three possible explanations.43 8. and the initial scores had indeed only been included in the regressions so as to control for them. there was no significant effect of either Estimation or Translation. Addition Level was a significant independent predictor of initial scores in all tests: not surprisingly. None of these scores did in fact predict improvement in Arithmetic. but not in the other tasks. The finding that derived fact strategy scores appear to act as a negative predictor of improvement is puzzling.04 0. n. whereas the other tests place greater emphasis on calculation and on reading and writing numbers.What can intervention tell us about arithmetical difficulties? Predictor WISC (improvement) Addition level Derived facts Estimation Translation Age in months WISC (first score) 0. good derived fact strategy use actually does make them less likely to show overall improvement in arithmetic at least in the short term. as all the standardised tests emphasised competence at calculation.s.96 0. The pattern was more complex with regard to the factors affecting improvements in performance.82 0. especially as most studies (Dowker. Translation predicted performance in the WISC Arithmetic test. This may be due to the fact that the WISC Arithmetic test places an emphasis on word problem solving.43 0 0. the more room for improvement. while investigating the effects of the scores on different components of arithmetic. but a lot more research needs to be done before we can draw strong conclusions about the nature of these roles.
another possible explanation for any differences found between Dowker’s (1998) study and the present one is that the findings are linked to educational changes. did not receive such intervention. and especially in a group selected for mathematical difficulties. they show rather less relationship between different components than was found in Dowker’s (1998) study of an unselected group of children. there is even less relationship between different arithmetical components than in a typical sample. There is no transparently obvious reason why the changes in mathematics education at that time should have led to greater dissociation between different components of arithmetic. it is risky to assume that differences in findings between groups are entirely the result of group characteristics. Perhaps derived fact strategy training has a particularly beneficial effect. It may be that in a group of children with arithmetical difficulties. though perhaps functionally separable. however. The results are. However. A third possible explanation is that the effects on improvement in performance are not linked to the child’s arithmetical or cognitive characteristics. In children with arithmetical difficulties. but to the form of intervention that was given. and the inclusion of derived fact strategies and estimation in primary mathematics instruction. at least in the short term. either because it is impeded by marked weaknesses in individual components. and investigating relationships to improvements in arithmetic. in their ‘mutual development’ theory). those who already performed well at derived fact strategies. and a particularly strong independent relationship between 72 derived fact strategy use and estimation. but there were few significant independent relationships between these components. It would be desirable to Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . By contrast. this integration may not occur to the same extent. That study (which did not investigate translation) showed significant independent effects of addition level on both estimation and derived fact strategies. consistent with the view that arithmetic is made up of many components. one might have expected that the more explicit structure of the mathematics curriculum. curriculum changes sometimes have effects other than the predictable or intended ones. 2005). only arithmetical abilities’ (Dowker. with the introduction of the National Numeracy Strategy (Department for Education and Employment. derived fact strategy use and estimation not only did not show an independent relationship. However. do inform and reinforce one another in the course of development (as Baroody & Ginsburg (1986) propose for the development of principles and procedures in younger children. If anything. There were crucial changes in British mathematics education in 1998–1999. 1998). which may include some children with co-morbid disorders associated with Verbal/Performance IQ discrepancies. they were not even correlated before other factors were partialled out. It may be desirable to investigate the effect of giving derived fact strategy training to all children in an intervention program. Perhaps in completely typical mathematical development. that ‘there is no such thing as arithmetical ability. Children who were weak at derived fact strategies were given interventions that involved derived fact strategy training. Investigations revealed some general correlations between specific components of arithmetic. in the present study. It may be that such discrepancies are associated with lower improvements. This hypothesis should be investigated in the future by giving the children IQ and perhaps other cognitive tests. in either direction. In any case. when there are also differences in the instruction that they have received. in addition to the more specific interventions for components in which particular children demonstrate weaknesses.Ann Dowker more likely than others to show large discrepancies. or because of a failure in the integrative process itself. It is possible that more such relationships would be found if a larger sample were studied. might have led to the components becoming more integrated with one another. different components. between Verbal and Performance IQ. Indeed.
degree of intensiveness. & Ginsburg. A. 75–112). K. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. which was inspired by my earlier research and conclusions about the components of arithmetic. Conclusion The findings discussed in this paper strongly support the view that arithmetic is made up of multiple components rather than being unitary. Children’s use of mathematical structure. Campbell. There is more research to be done on exactly how such interventions lead to improvement.E. 61. The present study also demonstrates the possibilities for bidirectional relationships between research and intervention. 156–168. the intervention project. The Mathematical Brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.. S. (1983). 882–891. Educational Psychology. The relationship between initial meaningful and mechanical knowledge of arithmetic.. 1769–1775. Hove: Psychology Press. A.E. A. N.I. Teaching and Learning Primary Numeracy: Policy. though further research is necessary to establish how the relationships between components vary with ability level and with educational factors. The project integrates the implementation and evaluation of the intervention scheme with the investigation of individual differences in.ac. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. A.). Baroody. A. Baroody. Practice and Effectiveness.J. degree of individualization. K. Christakis. Mahwah. Hillsdale. also serves to test theories about these components. eds. and Parsons. J. M. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 73 .I.J. B. Young children’s understanding of addition concepts.. Reeve..). & Butterworth. Garcia. (Ed.. (2006).oc. B. Indeed.: Erlbaum. Canobi. Even more precisely understanding the order irrelevance principle. NJ: Erlbaum. Neuroreport. 16. (1996).g. H. though more research comparing different forms of intervention would be needed to confirm this view. Castelli. Discrete and analogue quantity processing in the parietal lobe: a functional MRI study. 4693–4698. Canobi. 455–467).D. (1986). Such a study is currently underway. 84–101.What can intervention tell us about arithmetical difficulties? compare the children in this group with unselected children undergoing similar mathematics instruction. Developmental Psychology. Neural correlates of symbolic number processing in children and adults. Thus. & Brown.. 22. 34.uk References Askew. Oxford OX1 3UD. R. Butterworth. M. & Waxman. R.J. B.P. Butterworth. D. Hamon. K.They are also consistent with the view that arithmetical difficulties can be significantly ameliorated by interventions targeting specific weaknesses.D. Reeve. B. Hiebert (Ed. Bynner.dowker@psy. the project is undergoing further development and evaluation. & Pattison. the particular components emphasised) may differ in general effectiveness and/or differentially appropriate to different groups of children. Cowan. & Pattison. (1998). 513–532. Notts: British Educational Research Association. University of Oxford. Does Numeracy Matter? London: Basic Skills Agency. E-mail: ann. Bailey. Lucas. Conceptual and Procedural Knowledge: The Case of Mathematics (pp.D. R.. D. London: Macmillan. (2005) Handbook of Mathematical Cognition. Developmental dyscalculia. 14. Department of Experimental Psychology. F.). Baroody. E. (2003). (2003). provide children with individual attention: for example. Glaser. (1999). H.A. B.H.A. and Dowker. & Dowker. Handbook of Mathematical Cognition (pp. The Development of Arithmetical Concepts and Skills. It is also desirable to investigate whether different approaches to such intervention (e. 103. Campbell (Ed. J. South Parks Road. (1997). N. S. In J. P. A. and relationships between. certain selected components of arithmetic. Hove: Psychology Press.. (2005). P.. interventions in literacy. (2001.H. age when intervention starts. (2005). Ginsburg. Further investigations are of course necessary to show whether and to what extent specific interventions in mathematics are more effective in improving children’s mathematics than other interventions which Address for correspondence Ann Dowker. Ansari. & Dhilil.E.P. In J.). The role of conceptual understanding in children’s addition problem solving.
(1994). Smith. Teaching and Learning Early Number (pp. 363–381. (1992). Buckingham: Open University Press..A.C. Hughes. 47–80. & Waheed.A. D.F. Erlbaum. The National Numeracy Strategy: Framework for Teaching Mathematics.: Van Norstrand. M.: Erlbaum. A. Washington. Cognition and Instruction. 275–302).C.D. Developmental differences in solving simple arithmetic word problems and simple number-fact problems: a comparison of mathematically normal and mathematically disabled children. N.J. Mathematical Cognition.). R. New York. 325–335. Ginsburg. (1997). (2003). Numeracy recovery: a pilot scheme for early intervention with young children with numeracy difficulties.. & Tsivkin. The effect of semantic structure on first-graders’ strategies for solving addition and subtraction word problems.B. B. 970–974.). R. British Ability Scales. Dissociating neural correlates of cognitive components in mental calculation. 16. Rickard. Neuropsychologia. Pinel. 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Oxford. Donlan (Ed. 567–578. Mayer. Ostad. P. Kilpatrick.) (2001). S. 69–92). J. ambiguity and flexibility: a proceptual view of simple arithmetic. L.: National Academy Press.. 11. & Siegler. Mathematical Cognition. Putnam & R. Dehaene. (1994). 33. G.). Hove: Psychology Press.. N.I. 11. Hove: Psychology Press. (1986). P. E. Denvir. McGilly (Ed. 16. Rightstart: providing the central conceptual prerequisites for first formal learning of arithmetic to students at risk for school failure. The Number Sense. (1999). Riley.P. Understanding number concepts in low-attaining 7-to-9-yearolds. (2000). & Tate. Individual differences in normal arithmetical development. Greenwich. S. Indefrey. S. Cerebral Cortex. Windsor: NFER. 94–134. London. Children and Number: Difficulties in Learning Mathematics.I. J. (1992). 74 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . (1987).L. (1966). M. Royer (Ed.. & Widaman. Basso. Young children’s addition estimates. Lefevre. S. Jordan. D. 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S. working memory and complex problem solving: what we know and what we need to know. A.M.M. CT: Information Age Publishing. Royer. 20.G. Campbell (Ed.S. (1989). Dyspraxia and Mathematics. C. 3. Sowder.M. 31–51. In J. & Ginsburg. Dyslexia. L. O. Straker. Development of children’s problem-solving ability in arithmetic. D. Child Development. J. J.).). Wechsler. Shalev. D. & Manor.K. & Booth. (1996). Cognitive analysis of children’s mathematical difficulties. Wechsler Objective Numerical Dimensions. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 75 .). Mathematical Cognition (pp. D.D. 217–244. (1991). R. 155–193. London: Harcourt. 36.S. Wechsler. (1990). (2003) Mathematical Cognition. E. Temple. (1996). A. Mental Maths for Ages 5 to 7: Teachers’ Book. In J. Greenwich. In H.L. (2005). New York: Academic Press. (1997). Wynn.M. Siegler. 117–145). K. Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. Tronsky. The cognitive neuropsychology of the developmental dyscalculias.P. J.I. (2003). The fractionation of arithmetical skills: a single case study. (Ed. 351–370. (1999). R.I. Buckingham: Open University Press. 130–146. (1983). M. 34A. Royer (Ed. In I. Russell. 3rd Edition. Warrington. (1982).M. Relationships among basic computational automaticity.. J. & Rust. (1994). M.. 105–170. Straker. Siegler. R. London: Harcourt. Hove: Psychology Press. & Heller. & Wheeler. Development of numerical estimation: a review. Gross-Tsur. 39–48). Cognition. Yeo. J. 1996–1999. (1988). London: Whurr. The Development of Mathematical Thinking (pp. 197–212).T.What can intervention tell us about arithmetical difficulties? Riley.P. CT: Information Age Publishing. Ginsburg (Ed. 59. H. Mathematical Cognition. 833–851. Handbook of Mathematical Cognition (pp. J. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. R. Thompson (Ed. Neuropsychological aspects of developmental dyscalculia. 1. Greenwich. not-so-good students and perfectionists. Greeno.S. 13. & Royer.).). J. 153–196). Individual differences in strategy choice: good students. Cognition and Instruction. Issues in Teaching Numeracy in Primary Schools (pp. The development of concepts and strategies use in computational estimation. Cahiers de Psychologie Cognitive/Current Psychology of Cognition.T. Children’s understanding of counting. (1984). Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. The National Numeracy Project. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. V. (2003).
This is repeated down to zero. including repeated addition and subtraction by 1 from a set of circles. sorting objects into groups of ten. ‘It’s four this way. Worksheets devised for the project. Children are shown a set of 5 items. how many there are now. Intervention Children are given practice in counting sets of objects. Practice in reading and writing numbers. etc. and asked to say. 8. A similar set of numbers is dictated to them for writing. and asked to say. and then shown one item being subtracted. ‘What is the number after 14?’. without counting. and are then asked to predict the result of further counts: (a) in the reverse order (b) after the addition of an object and (c) after the subtraction of an object. Children practice counting and answering order-irrelevance questions about very small numbers of counters (up to 4). and recording them as ‘20’. and four that way – it’s four whichever way you count it!’ The child is given practice with increasingly large sets. ‘Number After Dominoes’ and ‘Number Before Dominoes’ which are played like dominoes except that the added domino must be the number after (or before) the end item. ranging in number from 5 to 25. and then shown one more item being added. ‘30’.Ann Dowker Appendix 1 Aspect Counting procedures Assessment (i) accuracy of counting sets of 5. Verbal ‘number after’ and ‘number before’ problems: ‘What is the number before 8?’. (Continued ) 76 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . rather than the same number. how many there are now. This is repeated up to 15. (ii) rote verbal counting to 10 and to 20 The children watch an adult count a set of objects. 12 and 21 objects. Practice in observing and predicting the results of such repeated additions and subtractions with counters (up to 20). 10. Children are shown a set of 10 items. etc. without counting. Counting principles (i) Order irrelevance (ii) Repeated addition by 1 and repeated subtraction by 1 Written symbolism for numbers Children are asked to read aloud a set of single-digit and two-digit numbers. and sorting and recording tasks where there are extra units as well as the groups of ten. He adult makes statements such as.
(Continued ) Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 77 . Hands and fingers in pictures. as well as writing the sums numerically. 20 11. Short addition and subtraction word problems of ‘Change’. ‘Compare’ and ‘Combine’ types are discussed with them: ‘What are the numbers that we have to work with?’ ‘What do we have to do with the numbers?’ ‘Do you think that we have to do an adding sum or a takingaway sum?’ ‘Do you think that John has more sweets or fewer sweets than he used to have?’. 20 12’. etc.What can intervention tell us about arithmetical difficulties? Aspect Place value Assessment Children are asked to add 10s to units (20 3). The fact that these give the same answers is emphasised. to add 10s to 10s (20 30) and to combine the two into one operation (20 33). Children with difficulties in reading or writing two-digit numbers (tens and units) are given practice in sorting objects into groups of ten. ‘30’. Number line or block. 1995) Translation between concrete. in the 10s (41 vs 51). verbal to numerical. or in both tens and units in conflicting directions (27 vs 31.. Intervention Addition of tens to units and the tens to tens in several different forms: Written numerals. concrete to numerical. Unifix) with which the child is familiar. They are encouraged to use counters to represent the operations in the word problems. verbal to concrete. and recording them as ‘20’. They are also asked to point to the larger number in pairs of 2-digit numbers. etc. etc. Children are presented with sums and are invited to ‘show how to do this sum with the counters’ in a rage of translation contexts: numerical to concrete. verbal and written number Children are asked to read aloud a set of single-digit and two-digit numbers. Children practice reading and writing numbers. that vary in the units (23 vs 26)’. They are then given such sorting and recording tasks where there are extra units as well as the groups of ten. numerical to verbal and concrete to verbal. The children are shown the same problems in different forms and are shown that they give the same results Word problem solving Word problems test (Griffin et al. 10-pence pieces and pennies or Any apparatus (Multilink. Practice with arithmetical patterns such as: ‘20 10. being encouraged to use apparatus when necessary. A similar set of numbers is dictated to them for writing. 52 vs 48). The children’s performance on this pretest is looked at in the context of their performance on the Written Symbolism and Word Problem pretests.
1966). 1996) that reinforce number fact knowledge. Intervention Training in the use and application of derived fact strategies (specifically commutativity. Children are presented with a series of problems with estimates made by imaginary characters (Tom and Mary).g. and the inverse principle). They are given the answer to a problem and then asked them to solve another problem that could be solved quickly by the appropriate use of an arithmetical principle. The children are asked to evaluate the estimates on a five-point ‘smiley faces’ scale and to suggest ‘good guesses’ for these problems themselves. and further practice in producing their own estimates. Number fact retrieval Russell and Ginsburg’s (1984) Number Facts Test has been expanded to include some subtraction facts. and are asked to give reasons for their answers. 78 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Straker. the n 1 principle. They also play ‘Twenty Questions’-type number-guessing games (cf. The child is asked to do the same sums repeatedly in the hope that the repetition will lead to retention of the facts involved. Holt. Arithmetical estimation Children are given additional ‘Tom and Mary’ evaluation tasks. which involve focussing on the range within which a number lies. They also play ‘number games’ (e. 1998).Ann Dowker Aspect Derived fact strategies Assessment Children are given the Addition and Subtraction Principles Test (Dowker.
Translation between arithmetical problems presented in concrete. 1987). For example children tend to find problems involving changes in quantity (‘Change’ problems) easier than those involving comparisons between quantities (‘Compare’ problems) (Riley et al. 52 versus 48). Understanding the role of place value in number operations and arithmetic : This involves the ability to add 10s to units (20 3 23). 1977. some studies have suggested (e. 1994. 1996). A related task involves Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 pointing to the larger number in pairs of 2-digit numbers.g.g. With regard to this component. 27 versus 31. Dowker. DeCorte & Verschaffel. 1994. verbal and numerical formats: Several authors have suggested that translation between concrete. Christakis & Bailey. 41 versus 51).. Riley. even when they are capable of performing the necessary calculations. and is sometimes weak even in six-year-olds. 23 versus 26)’. a significant number have not (Griffin. just with regard to the 10s (e. 2003). While most six-year-olds have achieved relatively effortless counting. 6.What can intervention tell us about arithmetical difficulties? Appendix 2: The nine components of the numeracy recovery programme 1. & Bailey. It is important to take into account the nature of the problems. Indeed. 2.g. 5. and because the effort of counting may distract attention from other aspect of arithmetic (Gray & Tall. Fuson. Dowker. children are asked to read aloud a set of single-digit and two-digit numbers. and in particular with repre-senting quantities as numerals (Ginsburg. the ability to add 10s to 10s (20 30 50). both because of the intrinsic logical relationships between counting and arithmetic. Counting procedures: Arguably the most basic component of arithmetic is the ability to make appropriate use of counting. Yeo. 1992). 2003. 2005). 1983) that young children often experience difficulty with word problems in arithmetic. 1986. The children’s performance on the assessment described in the table is 79 . 1984) that performance on word problems is one of the tasks that most strongly defines the difference between mathematically normal and mathematically ‘disabled’ schoolchildren. as their semantic nature has a strong influence on how easily they are solved. 1996. or where both tens and units vary in conflicting directions (e. Dowker. 1983. For example. This may seriously impede their development of arithmetic. the order irrelevance principle (that counting the same set of items in different orders will result in the same number) is usually the latest of the main counting principles to be acquired (Cowan. 4. Evidence suggests that understanding the order irrelevance principle is closely related to the ability to predict the result of adding or subtracting an item from a set (Cowan. Greeno & Heller. However. Word problem solving: There is a considerable body of evidence (Hughes. Written symbolism for numbers: Here is much evidence that children often experience difficulties with written arithmetical symbolism of all sorts. A similar set of numbers is dictated to them for writing. Christakis. and the ability to combine the two into one operation (20 33 53). even when they are reasonably proficient at doing sums in either one of these formats and has suggested that this difficulty in translation may be an important hindrance to children’s understanding of arithmetic.g. Mayer. 2003). Counting-related principles and their application: Most counting principles are acquired before the age of five or six. verbal and numerical formats is a crucial area of difficulty in children’s arithmetical development. Russell & Ginsburg. 3. Yeo. Hughes (1986) reported that many primary school children demonstrate difficulty in translating between concrete and numerical formats (in either direction). that vary either just with regard to the units (e. Case & Siegler. even in children with some mathematical difficulties.
1998.. For example. knowledge of number facts does contribute to efficiency in calculation (Tronsky & Royer. educators and mathematicians agree that memorisation of facts is not the essence of arithmetic. Sowder & Wheeler. If the children perform particularly badly on translations that involve verbal material. and is a significant factor in distinguishing between mathematically normal and mathematically ‘disabled’ children (Geary & Hoard. 1998. 2000. 2004. 2003). 8. 2004). Ginsburg & Waxman. Russell & Ginsburg. 2005. 80 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Siegler & Booth. the addition/subtraction inverse principle (Baroody. and/or if their performance on the translations involving numerical material is disproportionately worse than their performance on the Written Symbolism pretest. and to evaluate the reasonableness of an arithmetical estimate. 9. Derived fact strategies in addition and subtraction: One crucial aspect of arithmetical reasoning is the ability to derive and predict unknown arithmetical facts from known facts. However. Canobi. then it is likely that their main problem is with word problem comprehension. 7. if they perform uniformly poorly on all parts of the translation pretest. 1983. If the children perform particularly badly on translations that involve numerical material. 1993. 2005. then it is likely that their main problem is with written symbolism. are important aspects of arithmetical reasoning (LeFevre et al. 1998). associativity. Number fact retrieval : Although most psychologists. Ostad. and also perform poorly on the Word Problems pretest. and/or if their performance on the translations involving the verbal material is disproportionately worse than their performance on the Word Problem pretest. Dowker. if we know that 29 13 42. and also perform poorly on the Written Symbolism pretest. 1989). Reeve & Pattison. Jordan & Hanich. Arithmetical estimation: The ability to estimate an approximate answer to an arithmetic problem. we can use the commutativity principle to derive the fact that 13 29 is also 42.Ann Dowker looked at in the context of their performance on the Written Symbolism and Word Problem pretests. for example by using arithmetical principles such as commutativity. then it is likely that the problem is with translation as such.
g. if 23 44 67.g. then one can automatically give the answer ‘14’. in order of their difficulty for the children: 1. 3.g. Each set includes a group of nine sums to which a pair of imaginary characters (‘Tom & Mary’) estimate answers. ‘Paul had 4 sweets. 23 45 must be 68). without calculating. A child is deemed to be able to use a principle if (s)he can explain it and/or used it to derive at least 2 out of 3 unknown arithmetical facts. out of a maximum score of 9. 2003). Compare and Combine problems for addition and subtraction. 2. Word problems included Change. Translation from numerical to concrete (2 items): Children are presented with written sums (‘2 5 7’. In the present study. ‘7 2 10’. while being unable to calculate any sums of similar difficulty when there is no opportunity to use the principle. ‘6 4’). The principles investigated are as follows. Translation from verbal to concrete (5 items): Children are presented with word problems and asked to ‘show me this story with the counters’ e. The Derived Facts score is the total number of derived facts used. then 73 – 27 must be 46). The n – 1 principle (e. The children are asked to evaluate each guess on a fivepoint scale from ‘very good’ to ‘very silly’. as demonstrated below. The identity principle (e. Reasonable estimates are defined as those that are within 30 per cent of the correct answer. each child is presented with an set of addition problems within their base correspondence as defined above. 9 7 must be 17 – 1 or 16). together with the principle under consideration. represented by a set of schematic faces ranging from very smiling to very frowning. if 9 4 13.g. 1998. and were themselves asked to suggest ‘good guesses’ to the sums. and are also larger than each of the addends. The commutativity principle (e. The n 1 principle (e. so now he has 7 sweets. 4 9 must also be 13). his mother gave him 3 more.What can intervention tell us about arithmetical difficulties? Appendix 3: A description of the three tasks used in the study Derived fact strategy task (use of arithmetical principles) Children are given the answer to a problem and then asked to solve another problem that can be solved quickly by using this answer. The addition/subtraction inverse principle (e. 4.g. three that are too small. concrete and numerical formats for additions and subtractions. ‘71 18 90’). if one is told that 8 6 14. The exact arithmetic problems vary according to the previously assessed calculation ability of the child and are selected to be just a little too difficult for the child to solve unaided. The Estimation score is the number of reasonable estimates. 2. Translation from concrete to numerical (2 items): Children watch the researcher perform arithmetical operations with counters (adding 7 counters to 2 counters. if asked ‘What is 8 6?’). 1. Translation task The tasks involve translations between word problem. subtracting 6 counters from 9 counters) and are then asked to ‘write down the sum that goes with what I did’.g. 81 Estimation task The addition estimation task has been used in previous studies (Dowker. and invited to ‘show me how to do this sum with the counters’. Each set of ‘Tom & Mary’s’ estimates includes three Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . if 9 8 17. The concrete formats involve the use of counters. good estimates (e. 3. if 46 27 73. No sum in any of these translation tasks includes a number greater than 10. and three that are too large.’ (Addition: ‘Change’ semantic category). All six combinations of presentation and response domain are given.g. 1997. 5.
Translation from numerical to verbal (2 items): Children are presented with written sums (‘3 6 9’. he ate 3 buns.g.’ as ‘3 2 5’ rather than ‘5 – 2 3’).’ The Translation score is calculated by giving 3 for every fully complete response. which involves inverting the operation (e. the maximum possible score is 54. Translation from verbal to numerical (5 items): Children were presented with word problems (similar but not identical to those above). subtracting 6 counters from 9 counters) and then asked to ‘tell a story to go with what I just did with the counters. As the total number of items is 18.Ann Dowker 4. and asked to ‘write down the sum that goes with the story’. representing the story ‘Peter had 5 buns. 1 for every incomplete response and 0 for every incorrect response.g. adding 5 counters to 3 counters. ‘8 6 2’). 5. Translation from concrete to verbal (2 items): Children watch the researcher perform arithmetical operations with counters (e. 2 for every complete response. and invited to ‘tell me a story that goes with this sum’. 6. 82 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . so now he has 2 chocolates.
but varied from day to day. This variability is considered in some detail with the aim of offering explanations for perceived differences. The research arises from a wider ethnographic study carried out in various settings. The children concerned were all considered to have learning difficulties in mathematics and the article ends by considering whether variability is a particular issue for 83 . Finally. therefore. to compare children’s responses to similar tasks over a period of time. Elements such as task presentation and subtle mathematical differences between tasks provide partial explanations. A further question was whether variability really occurred over identical or similar tasks or whether it could in fact be explained by task differences. was firstly to interrogate my existing data to see if there was evidence for this variability. Many differences remain unexplained. are considered. This final type of variability is the Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 © The British Psychological Society 2007 T main focus of this research although other types are relevant. Findings suggest that arithmetical capacities were not fixed and easily assessed. Observational research was conducted. HE ARTICLE uses detailed observational data gathered in a natural classroom situation. observation shows major variability. This particular research question arose in this setting from the concern of the adults who worked there. The research questions are whether there is evidence for variability of the performance of individuals and whether it is possible to explain any variability. While some variability may be expected. for example between children or for individual children between different aspects of mathematics. implications for practice in assessing children and planning for their mathematical development. different aspects of number or tasks presented in different ways. planning and teaching. The paper builds on research suggesting this might be a particular issue for children considered to have learning difficulties in mathematics.Investigating variability in classroom performance amongst children exhibiting difficulties with early arithmetic Jenny Houssart Abstract Researchers in both psychology and mathematics education acknowledge that children’s mathematical performance can vary inexplicably from day to day. They expressed concern at the difficulty of assessing children during classroom activities due to perceived variability of their responses. Variability can take many forms. Another form of variability is between similar or identical tasks carried out by the same child on different occasions. The children concerned were seven.to nine-year-olds taught together for mathematics in a small group with high levels of adult help in assessment. Findings synthesise a range of evidence for each child gathered both during planned assessment tasks and as part of routine classroom activity. and it is argued that variability is in fact a feature of learning. The purpose of my investigation. though there has been little detailed investigation of the form of variability discussed in this paper. with children apparently demonstrating specific capacities only to ‘lose’ them later. The data are used to chart the performance of individuals over this period. with the researcher making weekly visits over the course of a year.
clues to variability can be found by looking at the findings of apparently contradictory studies. However. Other writers.g. The issue is not currently foregrounded in English schools. Gabb. this remains peripheral and underemphasised. She provides many examples of individuals demonstrating uneven performance across different aspects of mathematics and uses the phrase ‘cognitively uneven’ for those who have verbal reasoning which is either much better or much worse than their spatial reasoning. work challenging Piaget (e. Despite detailed discussion of the performance of individuals on particular aspects of arithmetic.g. 2005) brings together findings confirming that many children show variability across different aspects of number. The current mathematics curriculum in England puts an emphasis on teaching number. 1952. It is stated explicitly (page 33) that assessment during every lesson should check that children have grasped the main teaching points and determine whether they can move on.. Much of the detailed discussion about children with apparent difficulties in mathematics focuses on number (e. in relation to her studies of estimation. some points are also made relevant to variability between occasions. often to be shared with children with the hope that they will be achieved within the lesson. The implication is that such decisions can reasonably be made in a lesson and that. For example. Wright et al. 84 . most detailed studies of children considered to be low attainers concentrate on aspects of number. A major contributor to discussions of variability in arithmetic is the noted psychologist Siegler (1996) who focuses on children’s strategies and how changes occur in their strategies and ways of thinking. in the medium term. Although the focus is mainly on variability between aspects of arithmetic. and she refers to a ‘zone of partial knowledge and understanding’. Dowker. 2002). or whether misunderstandings need to be addressed. but rather arithmetical abilities which can be grouped in to several categories.g. It is suggested that there can be strong discrepancies in either direction between almost any two components. the author stresses the difficulty in trying to break down arithmetic into components for the purposes of assessment and intervention. 2005) assert that pupils with special educational needs should have an appropriate diet of mathematics. He suggests that evidence for variability is present in the detail of much research but that.Jenny Houssart such children or is in fact a wider phenomenon. that children’s mathematical capacities are not fixed and easy to assess but vary markedly from day to day or even between similar tasks on the same day. for several reasons. the National Numeracy Project (DfEE 1999) focuses on detailed learning objectives. (e. frequently as an aside. Dowker suggests that the ‘know’ or ‘not know’ dichotomy in relation to particular types of arithmetic is inadequate. My own research in other settings suggests that some pupils who are apparently low attainers in mathematics can respond well to non-number tasks such as measuring or shape (Houssart. The paper’s contribution is to show that classroom research confirms clinical psychological experiments on variability. A key reason he advances is that within Developmental Psychology variability between age groups is the main focus of attention. possibly because it conflicts with contemporary initiatives. Although there is little work aimed directly at studying variability. though other aspects of mathematics are also included. suggesting that this may be integral to the very process of learning itself rather than an aberration requiring alternative explanations. records can be kept confirming which key objectives have been met. hence variability within groups is minimised. 1953) highlighted Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Background Both psychologists and educational researchers note. 2004. For example. A central theme of Dowker’s book is that it is not appropriate to talk about arithmetical ability. In particular. not just restricted to basic number work. A recent detailed discussion of individual differences in arithmetic (Dowker. 2004).
She uses the outline VAK model. McGarrigle. 2006) suggests that the whole issue of teacher assessment is problematic and that it is not possible to say for certain what a pupil knows. currently more prominent issue in education is that pupils may perform differently according to how a task is presented.Investigating variability in classroom performance amongst children young children able to cope with concepts such as class inclusion and conservation at an earlier age than previously thought (e. 2000). Such findings are discussed by Siegler (1996) who suggests that recognising variability of thinking is important in trying to reconcile evidence of young children’s competence with evidence of their incompetence. hearing or doing. 1996. They give possible reasons for this. 1998).g. However. It is similar in some ways to micro genetic studies since it is longitudinal. methods described in detail by Siegler & Crowley (1991) who argue that the concept of micro genetic methods and the rationale for using them go back for over eighty years. These teachers taught mathematics to children aged between ten and twelve years. incorporating Visual. He argues that this has received far less attention from researchers than other issues of reliability and validity. Most of the research evidence is provided by Siegler and his colleagues (Siegler & Jenkins. Black (1998) considers whether a pupil might perform differently on different days when discussing the reliability and validity of formal tests. disadvantaging some pupils. often in an assessment context. Auditory and Kinesthetic styles in a discussion of how pupils may exhibit learning differences in mathematics with preferences for tasks involving seeing. 1978). Siegler & Stern. 1974. Asked about how they reached judgments about their pupils’ mathematics. with children frequently returning to similar tasks. 2001. 2000) indicate their strong belief that pupil performance varies from day to day. It could be argued that if variability was widely recognised this would undermine the system of formal assessment currently in use. including the facts that a less sophisticated strategy may be easier or that some feature of the child’s thinking prior to solving Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 the current task may focus them on a less sophisticated strategy. Grieve & Hughes. Clausen-May (2005) discusses pupils with different mathematics learning styles. This paper uses data gathered in a classroom whilst children undertake their normal activities. McGarrigle & Donaldson. Siegler. Different thinking styles in mathematics are also discussed by Chinn (2004) who uses the idea in the context of pupils considered to have learning difficulties in mathematics. Both writers’ work is relevant to the current study because the data are drawn from a range of classroom tasks and it is possible that variability might be explained by pupils being asked to work on tasks presented in different ways. Martland & Stafford. It differs from them in that the researcher can not control the type or number of tasks carried out and because it is conducted in a classroom context rather 85 . Related work by the same author (Watson. She also suggests that classroom mathematics tasks may have a strong literacy base. Discussions held with teachers (Watson. A related. with the authors saying that children frequently use strategies that are less sophisticated than those of which they are capable. 1989. and it is therefore perhaps not surprising that this is not a high profile issue. Within Education some writers touch on possible variability of performance. research on the issue is relatively sparse for methodological reasons. There is therefore some support amongst both writers and teachers for the idea of variable performance. such studies are time-consuming and problematic. In this case the emphasis is again on variability of strategy. roughly half of the thirty teachers said it was possible for pupils to be able to do some mathematics on one day but not on the next. These studies use micro genetic methods where individuals undertake the same task on several occasions. Work aimed specifically at assessing pupils with learning difficulties in arithmetic also accepts that there is some variability (Wright.
This process is exemplified in the sections below with particular reference to one child. These were reorganised to obtain a ‘personal record’ for each child providing information drawn over a year for each individual. Findings Overview of activities. To illustrate this. It had been noted that Claire negotiated the maze with apparent ease. For this reason. Haylock. This carries limitations in the number of times a child may work on each calculation but has the advantage of providing an opportunity to see whether Siegler and his colleagues’ results in experimental situations can be replicated in a ‘natural’ classroom context. Each mark on the table indicates aspects of mathematics covered in the notes. The teacher was joined in mathematics lessons by two classroom assistants. Incidents were coded on each personal record according to the aspect of mathematics concerned. however. 1991. adopting a role similar to that of the classroom assistants and observed the children’s responses to activities carried out with the whole group.Jenny Houssart than as a clinical experiment. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . who were drawn from different classes. I worked alongside them as requested by the teacher. The group was similar to other groups considered to be low attainers in mathematics (Denvir. The next step was to focus on examples where there were a large number of incidents for an individual featuring the 86 same aspect of mathematics. were all considered to have learning difficulties as far as mathematics was concerned. though these vary from brief mentions to records of whole lessons containing several activities on the same aspect. that any children in this group with strengths in other aspects of mathematics had few opportunities to demonstrate those strengths. This raises a slight possibility that Claire may be happier working with spatial tasks but there is insufficient data to examine this possibility. arranged chronologically. Stolz & Brown. Context and method Data are drawn from a long-term research project carried out with four groups of children using ethnographic methods. These incidents were extracted and compared in order to examine variations across the year. the focus for the rest of this article will be on variability within number. Whilst researching. 2000) in that they exhibited a range of apparent difficulties with a corresponding range of possible reasons. Claire. It is clear from the chart that the majority of time was spent on number rather than on other aspects of mathematics. shape and space and measures and most of these are very brief. The data was analysed by examining field notes and extracting all those incidents which named individuals. While children worked alone or in smaller groups. It is worth noting. The twelve children in the group. and with examples drawn from other children also shown for comparison. This was the same for all children. Robbins. Detailed notes of children’s responses to tasks were kept. There are only six entries covering data handling. The data considered were gathered from one group of children aged seven to nine years old. I also occasionally conducted assessment activities with individual children as requested by the teacher. the information from Claire’s personal record has been tabulated to show which aspects of mathematics she was observed studying across each of the twenty-five weeks for which there were observations for her (see Table 1). 1982. I visited the group for one mathematics lesson each week for a year. The shape and space observation for Week 11 related to Claire’s use of a computer program concerned with tables facts. This means it is impossible to draw any conclusions about whether Claire’s performance on number tasks varied from her performance on other aspects. with the vast majority of observations being related to number. Initial examination of the personal records for each child gave some indication of the curriculum covered by this group of children and in particular which aspects of mathematics were revisited several times.
Data handling * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Shape and space Measures Money Counting and ordering Place value Counting in 2s. 5s and 10s Multiples of 2. 5 and 10 Odd and even numbers Addition Subtraction Week 1 * Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 * Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Week 10 * Week 11 * Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Investigating variability in classroom performance amongst children Week 25 87 Table 1: Summary of entries for Claire .
The charts for Seth differ from those for Claire in several ways. when she did not answer questions about the total number of spots on a domino in Week 4. some comments were added to give details of the outcome. Because this represents a fairly crude categorisation. Table 3 suggests that her counting and recitation of tables was better when she was picked to recite in front of the class or to an adult as an assessment activity. when he did not answer correctly. Generally. and one of the most successful at mathematics. Seth was one of the older children in the group. Firstly. Seth had difficulEducational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . both charts show a mixed performance across the weeks with Claire often failing to answer or answering incorrectly. a cross was used and any correct response noted. it is clear that on several occasions. incorrectly (X). Towards the beginning of the year. Table 1 indicates a large amount of data concerning Claire’s responses to aspects of mathematics which were revisited frequently throughout the year. although the adults remarked that he was not consistently successful. so. fives and tens. neither of these patterns applies entirely. This will be considered in more detail later. it was very rare for Seth not to provide answers or participate in activities. Table 2 suggests that Claire achieved more success in written addition tasks than in similar tasks presented in games or practical formats. Later in the year. such as addition. Some observations can be made from these two tables. or whether the response was mixed ( ). if responses were almost entirely incorrect. The next step in analysis was to look separately at aspects of mathematics for which there was sufficient data. incorrect answers were given which sometimes shed light on his difficulties. For example. Similarly. However. Seth also differs from Claire in that the two tables show a different picture. Although Seth’s difficulties in Weeks 4.Jenny Houssart Focusing on number. it is not surprising that he needed help with the second task in Week 20 as it was harder than those carried out previously. subtraction and counting in twos. five and ten. There were 88 also a few occasions when Claire arrived at lessons distressed about matters outside of mathematics and this may have been a factor in her lack of participation. At this point tentative coding was used to indicate whether the task was completed correctly ( ). 14 and 17 have no obvious explanation. Firstly. but any small errors were noted. sometimes on tasks similar to those she had completed previously. they felt that Claire sometimes chose not to participate in tasks that she might be able to complete. A similar process was carried out for other children and information is shown for Seth in Tables 4 and 5. for example with his comments about addition of zero in Week 4 and his systematic recording of possibilities in Week 7. The chart for addition also indicates that Seth usually completed tasks correctly and sometimes did more than was expected. fives and tens and multiples of two. The table for place value suggests that he was less confident with this aspect and had some difficulty with tens and units. the staff were concerned that she did not understand these very basic ideas and was unable to answer. Where responses were almost entirely correct a tick was used. A cross was also used when no response was given. Claire did not provide answers to questions or did not participate in games or joint counting activities. It is not possible to say for certain whether Claire could have answered the questions or not and this presented a difficulty for the staff working with her. but this was noted. For example. Observations for chosen aspects were tabulated with brief details included of the task involved. for example. The tables also show some general tendencies. Table 2 shows Claire’s response to addition tasks tabulated in this way and Table 3 shows her response to tasks involving counting in twos. The symbol for mixed response was used for a mixture of correct and incorrect answers and also for cases where work was completed with adult help. This observation is supported by other entries on Seth’s personal record.
and when challenged about this said that it did end in two. However. with his confidence in addition not being matched with his understanding of place value. When asked to ring multiples of ten.Investigating variability in classroom performance amongst children Week Week 2 Week 4 Week 4 Week 4 Week 5 Task details Addition to 10 Adding numerals from cards Adding spots on dominoes Totals to 10 Number walls (written addition) Outcome X X X X Outcome details Does not answer Does not answer Does not answer Does not answer Had adult help with first few examples. Seth’s performance on place value tasks was also 89 . heavy rubbing out Mostly incorrect. apparently tried to make use of a pattern Incorrect answer Not participating Completed with intensive adult help Mixture of instant correct responses and correct responses after counting on fingers – Task interrupted All answers correct Mixed Week 6 Week 6 Week 8 Week 15 Week 15 Week 15 Week 16 Week 16 Pairs to 10 (oral activity) Making 10 (written activity) Adding money (oral activity) Addition to 20 (game format) Number card addition to 20 Addition dominoes Make 10 worksheet (no help) Make 20 worksheet (no help) Week 16 Week 16 Week 17 Week 20 Pairs to 20 (mental. Seth’s performance across aspects of number Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 was somewhat uneven. suggesting it was a multiple of two. then check with calculator) Addition to 20. then worked alone – Mixture of correct and incorrect answers 19 out of 20 calculations correct with no adult help Correct answers. X Mostly or entirely incorrect or answers not given ties in identifying multiples of two. Apparently. Key to outcomes: Mostly or entirely correct. he ringed almost everything. – response. He ringed the number 205. no help X – X X X Not participating Initially incorrect but corrected after adult help Not participating Mostly incorrect. 1999). Care needs to be taken here as it is acknowledged that place value is often more problematic than addition (Cockburn. dice game Make 10 and make 20 worksheet Addition to 20 using number cards X X – Week 24 Week 25 Dice addition Addition of money (oral activity) Table 2: Claire’s response to addition tasks. five and ten in Week 18.
5s and 10s Recited correctly alone as assessment task – Intermittent participation Mostly correct. numbers are correct but out of step with the questions Claire counts correctly up to 30s then misses out 36 – Intermittent participation Joins in enthusiastically and correctly volunteers to recite it alone (not chosen) Joins in enthusiastically and correctly volunteers to say it alone – Needs extensive adult help to start with but later completes correctly by counting in 2s. a few small errors – X X Intermittent participation Incorrect answers Incorrect answers Correctly recites alone as assessment activity – – – Does not participate to start with.Jenny Houssart Week Week 5 Week 5 Week 7 Task details Counting in 5s (game) Counting in 5s (missing number game) Tape for 2x table Outcome X – – Outcome details Incorrect answers Correct answer with adult help No response initially. joins in later. 5s and 10s 90 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . then joins in correctly Intermittent participation Completed correctly Does not stay on task Completed correctly as individual assessment activity – X Initially incorrect. lots of adult encouragement Week 7 Week 8 Week 8 Counting in 2s (joint oral activity) Counting in 5s (joint activity) 5x table tape Week 9 Week 11 10x table tape 2x. 5x and 10x tables as part of computer game 2x table tape Counting in 2s (joint oral activity) Counting in 2s worksheet Counting in 5s (oral activity) Counting down in 10s Counting in 10s. 5s and 10s Counting in 2s oral activity (high-starting numbers) Counting in 2s using coins Week 12 Week 13 Week 13 Week 14 Week 14 Week 14 Week 15 Week 18 Week 18 Week 18 Week 18 Week 19 Week 19 Week 23 Table 3: Claire’s response to tasks involving counting in 2s. 5s and 10s and multiples of 2s. missing number game 10x table Counting in 5s (joint oral activity) Multiples of 5. 5 and 10 (worksheet) Counting in 2s. completes with adult help Incorrect answers. card activity Multiples of 5 (writing on board) Multiples of 2.
3 2) easy Week 16 Week 16 Week 16 Week 16 Week 17 Make ten worksheet (no help) Make twenty worksheet (no help) Make ten and make twenty worksheet Adding three numbers Make ten and make twenty worksheet Week 20 Week 20 Week 24 Week 24 Addition program on computer Two-digit addition using hundred square Adding four numbers Dice addition Week 25 Oral addition Table 4: Seth’s response to addition tasks compared with that of others in this group who completed many of them correctly yet had greater difficulties than Seth with addition tasks. comments on connection between 5 15 and 15 5 Completed without mistakes Completed without mistakes Appeared to complete easily Completed correctly – Make ten part corrected easily. Two of these tables are shown as Table 6 and 7. 50p Some errors initially. This chart suggests that 91 . Table 6 shows those addition tasks which required Claire to add up numbers rather than the harder tasks which involved finding numbers that added to a given total. number lines were available but Seth appeared to make use of known facts sometimes Seth appeared to find these questions (e. Carrying out this process for Claire revealed a series of tables which showed mixed progress. corrected with adult help Completed correctly. £1. needed help with 32 33 Completed correctly Completed correctly. This led to a series of shorter Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 tables which tended to contain between five and ten activities.g.Investigating variability in classroom performance amongst children Week Week 4 Week 4 Week 5 Week 7 Week 8 Week 14 Week 15 Task details Adding spots on dominoes Domino addition Oral addition Addition to twelve (written task) Finding coins for given totals Addition to 100 Make twenty (number cards) – Outcome X Outcome details Incorrect answers Discusses addition of zero Answers quickly and correctly in plenary All possibilities recorded systematically Correctly answered for totals of 10p. Analysis of similar tasks. Further analysis was carried out by extracting activities from each aspect of mathematics which were as similar as possible. slows down and makes some mistakes on make twenty part Completed correctly and helped another child – Correct on 16 15.
though with some variation across the weeks. no help X – Not participating Task interrupted All answers correct Table 6: Claire adds single-digit numbers 92 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . in the number walls activity in Week 5 she used a number line to add. The tables for Claire suggest that she tended to participate less enthusiastically in practical and game activities. The detailed observations for Claire contained comments that support this. then worked alone Correct answers. in Week 4. She did also sometimes need adult help to start with. corrected after adult help Mixture of correct and incorrect answers Completed correctly Completed quickly and correctly X Answered questions incorrectly Could make and read three-digit numbers Week 2 Week 3 Week 3 Week 7 Week 7 Week 8 Week 16 Making numbers with arrow cards Putting tiles on hundred square Questions about hundred square Representing numbers with tens and units pieces Hundred square jigsaw Counting stick Making numbers with cards X – – Table 5: Seth’s response to place value tasks Claire’s performance improved over the year. At this point. Claire completed this written activity correctly. After this initial help. Claire said ‘Are we doing games all Week 4 Week 4 Week 5 Week 8 Week 15 Week 24 Week 25 Adding numerals from cards Adding spots on dominoes Number walls (written addition) Adding money (oral activity) Addition dominoes Dice addition Addition of money (oral activity) X X Does not answer Does not answer Had adult help with first few examples. For this reason. that she was more likely to leave questions unanswered than to answer incorrectly. It also shows. as mentioned before. and although she was secure about starting at the first number rather than zero. For example. she needed reminding to count one on the first jump rather than on the starting number. For example. Claire and some other children struggled with the introduction to addition via spots on dominoes.Jenny Houssart Week Week 2 Task details Putting tiles on hundred square Outcome – Outcome details Initially made mistakes but completed correctly after adult explanation Confused tens and units Made initial mistakes. the adults decided to abandon the planned worksheet and carry on with the practical introduction.
Claire made the comment ‘I love sums. It is less easy to explain Claire’s difficulties in Week 23. numbers are correct but out of step with the questions Claire counts correctly up to 30s then misses out 36 – Needs extensive adult help to start with but later completes correctly by counting in 2s. joins in later. The activity was repeated with intensive adult help. as this computer game required her to multiply given numbers by two. In many cases. very similar activities were identified. I love writing in my book’. when asked to count in twos as the teacher dropped 2p coins in a tin. completes with adult help Incorrect answers. whereas the normal activity was to chant multiplication facts in order only. 12p was dropped in the tin and Claire said the amount was 50p. It is not surprising that Claire found the activity in Week 11 harder.Investigating variability in classroom performance amongst children Week 7 Tape for 2x table – No response initially. It appears that Claire considered calculations written in books or on the whiteboard as ‘real maths’. 5x and 10x tables as part of computer game Week 12 Week 13 Week 13 Week 19 Week 19 Week 23 2x table tape Counting in 2s (joint oral activity) Counting in 2s worksheet Counting in 2s. (1999) who carried out an international study about attitudes to mathematics and suggested that children may see written sums as a core aspect of the subject. Although Claire’s attitude was extreme. Table 7 deals with activities in which Claire was asked to count in twos or identify multiples of two. Claire’s incorrect answers could not be explained by considering common errors or misconceptions and it is possible that she sometimes gave answers based on the idea of arithmetic as an arbitrary game as outlined by Ginsburg (1977). For some children. to see if there was still variability. when work was being discussed at the beginning of a lesson. lots of adult encouragement Week 7 Week 11 Counting in 2s (joint oral activity) 2x. a few small errors Completed correctly as individual assessment activity – X Initially incorrect. 5s and 10s Counting in 2s oral activity (high-starting numbers) Counting in 2s using coins Table 7: Claire counting in twos and multiples of two day?’ Much later in the year. There were several such cases where children were recorded successfully completing a mathematical task one week and then 93 . as Claire was asked to count in twos Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 starting from 74. it is echoed in a more moderate form in the findings of Gregory. Snell & Dowker. 5s and 10s Recited correctly alone as assessment task – Intermittent participation Mostly correct. Looking at these activities for Claire suggests variability between occasions which can sometimes but not always be explained by looking at differences in the way tasks were presented or in the mathematics involved. often over consecutive weeks. The second task carried out in Week 19 was also harder than some of the others.
Douglas was given 19 but didn’t answer. The teacher asked ‘How many do you need to make 20?’ There was no answer. so the teacher said ‘Count on’. Although it is not possible to be certain why this variability occurred. The teacher asked. each child was given a number tile and asked to find another number tile to go with their tile to make 20. Variability also occurred within extended tasks carried out on one occasion as shown in the examples which follow. He started 5. The calculator was not used to give Douglas the answer. The children had a worksheet on which they had 94 to ring and join pairs of numbers to total 20. Douglas made little progress with the sheet so I explained what he had to do and picked some individual numbers asking him for the pairs. A number line was found and used to demonstrate. though this incident was in keeping with others which suggested he did better in an activity involving technology even when the technology did not actually do the mathematics for him.Jenny Houssart experiencing difficulty with a very similar task the following week. 13. Douglas was similar to Claire in responding differently when tasks were presented in different ways. The children were given a number and asked ‘What has to be added to it to make 20?’ They had calculators which they were allowed to check the addition with after the numbers had been suggested. 15. it seems likely that part of the explanation lies in the way the task was presented. He ended with 75. Analysis of single tasks. It was common for the teacher to complete a checklist concerning counting when children were asked to count alone in this Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . 85. task presentation did not explain all or even most of the cases of variability. The following example concerns the performance of one child. the following week I was proved wrong. fives or tens. succeeded in mental calculation but had more difficulty when the same calculations were presented in written form. This was true for others in the group. ‘How many?’ and he said ‘20’. 10. He was unsure whether 74 or 75 was next and was helped by the adults. The following week the idea of pairs to 20 was introduced in a different way. Activities in this classroom commonly involved counting in twos. Eventually. 20. This activity suggested to me that contrary to the evidence of the previous week. The sheet was eventually completed with a very high level of help. 80. However. Perhaps Douglas understood the underlying idea but declined to cooperate when the task was presented in other ways. However. This and similar incidents led me to conclude that Douglas could not provide the missing number in addition pairs. 15 was given as the first number in the activity and Douglas correctly suggested 5 for the second number. Often this counting was carried out as a group but occasionally children were asked to count alone with the adults and other children listening. 40 and was then correct to 70. or maybe he was genuinely unable to understand the format of the worksheet. Perhaps Douglas was motivated by calculator use and presenting the task in that context maximised his potential. It was also sometimes recorded that children who did not appear to understand a piece of mathematics however it was presented in one lesson were able to cope with it in the next lesson. Douglas did not answer when asked what should be added to 15. In a later activity in the same lesson. Some. 100. in contrast to Claire. There were many examples where children were successful on a task one week but failed to carry out a similar task presented in a similar way the following week. ‘20’. On one occasion Neil was asked to count alone in fives to 100s. Asked to try again. across similar tasks on three consecutive weeks. merely to check. Douglas gave the required answer: 1. In an activity concerning addition pairs which made 20. He started slowly and deliberately. he said 20. Douglas. Douglas was amongst those in the group having greatest difficulty with mathematics and his record reflected this. Douglas said. Douglas was able to understand the idea of pairs of numbers with a given total. 25.
in general there was no explanation available in terms of task presentation or indeed any other obvious factor for most cases of variability. an accidental slip or a desire to get to 100 as requested. The idea of progression in mathematics is based for many on the belief that any new piece of mathematics can only successfully be learned when those preceding it have been understood thoroughly. His correct answer could have been a guess. However. However. Variability across lessons. His slow start suggested that he may have been mentally adding on five every time. especially for children such as Douglas & Claire. but could have been a combination of skipping the 25 and confusing 13 with 30. In many cases. ‘mastery’ is a pre-requisite for moving on. For some. The numbers 55 and 80 were written and the teacher said one of those was also a multiple of ten. leaving us wondering if he understood multiples at all. as illustrated by Douglas. Issues of mastery and progression are related to this dilemma. though children occasionally did activities related to hundred squares where they were asked to identify the next number and writing 56 on the board near to 55 would have been correct if that had been the activity. Summary of findings. Omitting 90 and 95 may have been a mathematical error.Investigating variability in classroom performance amongst children way. The teacher’s intervention was important and was presumably designed to confirm Michael’ understanding. though in some cases it was much less frequent and was not necessarily evident as part of normal classroom assessment. The teacher praised him and asked him to write another multiple of 10 on the board. it was not clear whether Neil could be recorded as able to count in fives to 100. The adults who worked in the classroom were well aware of the issue of variability. There are several possible reasons for his slight difficulties. as shown by Neil & Michael is harder to explain. Such discussions often led to the crucial issue of what should be done next as far as planning with this group of children was concerned. However. especially since he had two numbers to choose from. suggesting that real difficulty exists in trying to determine from such an incident whether or not a child ‘can do’ a piece of mathematics or even whether they did it successfully on that occasion. There are 95 . and could sometimes be explained by factors such Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 as task presentation. by performing consistently. he considered 74 as a possibility suggesting that he had not seen the pattern. The 56 is harder to explain. especially if they are based on only one item only of each type. a tension existed between reinforcement and repetition or moving on. more than one explanation was possible. that is. Discussions amongst the adults often attempted to explain variability in terms of factors such as task preference. Implications These findings have clear implications for practitioners by casting doubt on the usefulness of assessments conducted on single occasions. it had the opposite effect. the group was working on multiples of five and children had been invited to write multiples of five on the board. Michael quickly put his hand up and answered 80. Michael’s enthusiasm for answering the teacher’s initial question and his correct answer of 80 had suggested to the adults that he could recognise multiples of ten. In other words. Since Neil managed to count from 20 to 70 correctly. for whom this was a marked issue. though he seemed confident and was not obliged to answer. Variability within individual incidents. my findings suggest that this may be an unrealistic aspiration. Some believe it desirable to ‘master’ a piece of mathematics. The above incidents are selected to show examples of different types of variability. he may have been aware of the number pattern involved. My analysis of personal records indicates that variability was actually present for all children. The 13 is harder to explain. was common. with perceived pressure to move on to harder aspects of mathematics. However. lack of concentration and other personal or social factors. He wrote 56. On another occasion.
Jenny Houssart dangers in extrapolating such assessments to make statements about what a child ‘can’ or ‘cannot’ do. Another is that the adults concerned were in the unusual position of being able to observe children closely as they worked on similar tasks over a long period of time and therefore more able to observe variability. It is interesting to note that my analysis of personal records detected variability amongst all children. my findings suggest that it is unrealistic to expect busy classroom practitioners to compile detailed pictures of all children and reach appropriate conclusions. London WC1H 0Al. Some views of mathematics and learning point to the conclusion that individual aspects should be mastered to the point where performance is accurate and automatic before moving on. Thus. It is not possible to answer this question from this data. this repetition is often carried out in a search for mastery and automaticity. It appears possible that variability is a natural part of learning and is present in classrooms. It is possible that the situation in our classrooms in which work is frequently repeated brings about a similar reaction in children. A further issue is whether the variability observed applies particularly to groups of children considered to have learning difficulties or whether it applies more widely. Frequent repetition of tasks can also produce a reaction in some children. and to inform adults about those activities they are likely to need particular help with. However. This information can be used to structure appropriate activities. 20 Bedford Way. although detailed assessment can inform teaching it can not be relied upon. whereas the other apparently became bored and gave evidence of not trying. It could rather be argued that contradictory assessment can be more useful in diagnosing difficulties and in planning by indicating that children respond better to certain types of activity. However. Perhaps the fact that the children concerned are considered to be low attainers makes this option more email@example.com 96 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . my findings suggest that aiming for mastery before moving on is unrealistic and likely to be demoralising for all concerned. Institute of Education. Using micro genetic methods with a group of ten children. E-mail: j. Address for correspondence Dr J.ac. however. but it is useful to speculate about why variability in performance was apparently so marked in this classroom. In moving forward. Siegler & Jenkins (1989) had to stop working with two of the ten children because of the way they reacted to the repetition of tasks. One child became over-anxious about succeeding on the tasks. or have difficulties with specific aspects of arithmetic or with particular methods. teachers need to be aware that reminders are often required. Teachers need to make decisions about when to move on to harder aspects of mathematics and when to repeat or reinforce ideas. Ironically. Perhaps the key issue for practitioners is how to proceed in situations similar to the one described. This could be seen as a positive step with reinforcement taking place as required in order to enable progress to be made rather than being seen as an end in itself. even those for whom it was not evident from normal classroom observation. One possible reason is that variability is more common amongst children who experience difficulties in learning arithmetic. This is an extremely time-consuming task. Houssart. for all children. and interpretation is problematic. which could be present but less noticeable in other situations.
H. (1974). Nottingham: DfEE Publications. B. Stolz. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. Journal of Experimental Psychology. 5–16: Policies and practices in schools. (1982). Snell. A. (1953). (2004). J. 606–620. Van Nostrand Company. Dowker. 69–91. R. 26. J. (1978). The National Numeracy Strategy. Early numeracy: Assessment for teaching and intervention. A..Investigating variability in classroom performance amongst children References Black. (1991). Siegler. London: Routledge Falmer. Issues in mathematics teaching. London: Paul Chapman Publishing. M. Paper presented at the Conference on Language. London: Continuum. Stafford. (2000). University College London. Clausen-May. J. A. 3.. Teaching maths to pupils with different learning styles. (2005). J. (1998). Reasoning and Early Mathematical Development. Houssart. Martland. A. (2004). Piaget. (1991). Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 97 . 11(2). R. & Jenkins. J. A. J. (2000). Martland. Gabb. R. Piaget. The microgenetic method: A direct means for studying cognitive development. What works for children with mathematical difficulties? (DfES Research Report 554). Gregory. S. 341–350..). New York: Oxford University Press. Inclusive mathematics 5–11. T. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. & Stanger. In P. Teaching mathematics with insight: The identification. framework for teaching mathematics from reception to Year 6. & Brown. (2006). 41. Scientific American. R. Ginsburg. McGarrigle. Watson. DfEE (1999). Wright. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Siegler. (1998).. Chinn. (2005). London: Methuen Educational.. London: Falmer Press. Testing: Friend or foe? Theory and practice of assessment and testing. (1996). P. diagnosis and remediation of young children’s mathematical errors. 528–550. How children discover new strategies. & Crowley. G. (1989). R. Making judgments about pupils’ mathematics. & Stern. J. (1952). Watson. Robbins. neuroscience and education. Denvir. (2004). London: Paul Chapman Publishing. M. & Stafford. M. 127(4). C. E. J. Grieve. A. London: Paul Chapman Publishing. Siegler. Equals. (2005). The child’s conception of number. Educational Studies in Mathematics. & Hughes. Children’s arithmetic: The learning process. Siegler. Individual differences in arithmetic: Implications for psychology. problems and recommendations. (2000). Cockburn. Dowker. London: Falmer Press. (1999). McGarrigle. 22–23. Low attainers in primary mathematics: The whisperers and the maths fairy. Haylock. R. J. R. Wright. Cognition. Hillsdale. How children form mathematical concepts. London: Routledge Falmer. Low attainers in mathematics. Teaching number: Advancing children’s skills and Strategies. Hove and New York: Psychology Press. Watson. K. A. (2001). Conscious and unconscious strategy discoveries: A microgenetic analysis. Mathematics teachers acting as informal assessors: Practices. The trouble with maths. A. (2002). London: Paul Chapman Publishing. 377–397. 46(6). A. 74–79. London: Routledge-Falmer. Young children’s attitudes to mathematics: A cross-cultural study. (1999). B. & Donaldson. Gates (Ed. A. Emerging minds: The process of change in children’s thinking. Interpreting inclusion: a contribution to the study of the child’s cognitive and linguistic development.. American Psychologist. & Dowker. D. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Sudbury: DfEE Publications. 8–12. New York: D. Conservation accidents. (1977). Raising achievement in secondary mathematics. Equals at BCME 6. Teaching mathematics to low attainers. E. 189(5).
Models of number processing state that arithmetical facts are stored in an associative network (e. For example. During the intervention child B progressed from finger-counting strategies to fact retrieval. Pekka Räsänen & Timo Ahonen Abstract The aim of this single-case intervention study was to examine whether difficulties in fluent language-based retrieval are related to learning to retrieve arithmetical facts from long-term memory. Later. 1984). which is a more efficient strategy (Geary et al. Before the intervention both children used finger-counting strategies only. children use calculation strategies based on counting such as finger counting or verbal counting (Siegler & Shrager. LUENT CALCULATIONS are important cornerstones in mathematical learning and are also essential in many everyday situations. Campbell & Clark. Dehaene & Cohen. Two 10-year-old Finnish-speaking children considered to have Specific Language Impairment (SLI) were trained individually twice a week for two months using computerised game-like addition tasks. Koponen. 1992. 1999. The key cognitive difference between the participants was naming fluency. Initially. Räsänen & Ahonen.g. Ashcraft’s Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 © The British Psychological Society 2007 . children with specific language impairment (SLI) have been found to have difficulties in shifting from counting-based strategies to a fact retrieval strategy (Fazio. Siegler & Shrager. Geary. The results suggest that the benefit of an intervention programme. Hamson & Hoard. 1984). A multiple baseline across-subjects design was used. 2000). Child A had difficulties in fluent language-based retrieval while child B’s performance on the same task was close to age-mean. The participants were matched for non-verbal reasoning and non-verbal numerical skills as well as linguistic skills (verbal shortterm memory. 1988. Ashcraft. with three baseline assessments and three follow-up assessments. 1982. while child A continued to use finger counting only. Tuija Aro. 1984). The learning develops gradually. First. children shift to counting on from the cardinal value of the first (counting-on max) or larger number (counting-on min) presented. 1995). Frequent successful use of counting strategies increases memory representations of arithmetical facts and leads to a strategy of retrieving arithmetical facts from long-term 98 F memory (Barrouillet & Fayol.. some children have difficulties in acquiring the skill of fluent calculation. 2000).Language-based retrieval difficulties in arithmetic: A single case intervention study comparing two children with SLI Tuire Koponen. This idea has also been presented in models of number processing (e. However. It is proposed that an inability to shift from a finger counting to a fact retrieval strategy is connected to difficulties in fluent language-based retrieval from long-term memory. 1998. when learning to solve simple arithmetic problems. 2006). In age-appropriate development of arithmetical skill children usually start using fact retrieval as the main strategy by the age of nine years. comprehension and vocabulary). These findings suggest that learning arithmetical facts relies on linguistic processing. focusing on teaching fluent calculation skills with simple additions. children count both numbers presented in the addition – countingall procedure (Fuson. Mononen. is related to the specific features of the child’s language competencies. Siegler & Shrager.g.
The goal of the present study was to test the theory that simple calculation is a language-connected skill. 1988. Arvedson. Fluent calculation skills. Fazio (1999) reported that compared Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 to their age peers. Butterworth. is central in arithmetical fact retrieval deficit. Caramazza & Basil. Rapid serial naming of objects and colours was the only one of the variables that explained the differences between the children who mainly used retrieval and those who used counting-based strategies in single-digit calculations. Only a few studies have focused on the mathematical skills of children with specific language impairment (SLI). despite having practised simple calculation for several years.g. 1995) representations of arithmetical facts. are one of those basic numerical skills that seem to be hard to acquire if the child has a language impairment (Fazio. The present study was concerned with the impact of language-based retrieval difficulties on arithmetical acquisition. Koponen and colleagues (2006) found that only 31 per cent of 9. rather than other cognitive domains. 1999.. although the authors did not claim a causal relationship between rapid naming and difficulties in fact retrieval.Laguage-based retrieval difficulties in arithmetic (1992) network retrieval model proposes that arithmetical facts are represented in memory in an organized network from which access and retrieval occur via a process of spread activation. The results of his later study (Geary. 99 . The children who calculated simple additions and subtractions slowly also named colours and objects more slowly than the children who calculated fluently. 1999. et al.to 11-year-old children with SLI used fact retrieval as the main strategy in single-digit calculations. These studies show that children with SLI lag significantly behind their age peers in arithmetical skills (e. Hamson & Hoard. 1995). 9. Landerl. Landerl et al. an intervention study design was used. phonological. 2004) and non-modular (Campbell & Clark. 2002. 2002. who has suggested that representing and retrieving phonological information from long-term memory may underlie problems in learning arithmetical facts as well as coexistence with reading difficulty.g. which so far has mainly been investigated via group studies. In contrast. Two SLI children with different abilities in languagebased retrieval received an arithmetical intervention in order to examine whether the capacity to learn arithmetical facts is related to language-based retrieving ability.. To better understand this connection. Fazio. 1999. These findings of language-based retrieval difficulties are in line with the theory of Geary (1993). Campbell & Clark (1988) take the view that the associative network of arithmetical facts includes multiple numerical codes. Bevan & Butterworth. However.to 10-year-old children with SLI had more problems when fast arithmetical fact retrieval was demanded. 1998). Butterworth & colleagues (Butterworth. there is theoretical justification as well as empirical evidence for both modular (e. Koponen. 1985. 2006). Tieche Christinat. The strength with which the nodes are stored and interconnected is a function of the frequency of occurrence and practice. 1999. Also. How these nodes are represented remains an open question. 2004) propose that the numerical. semantic and visual) which are interconnected. Of particular interest was whether problems in fluent languagebased retrieval are related to learning to retrieve arithmetical facts from long-term memory. Most of the children with SLI used counting-based strategies. in particular. (e. Dehaene & Cohen. Temple & Sherwood. Conne & Gaillard. McCloskey. Dehaene and Cohen (1995) go even further by proposing that arithmetical facts are stored in verbal form. Temple and Sherwood (2002) found that a group of children with arithmetical difficulties were slower at colour and object naming than control children. 2000) support this theory while suggesting that poor inhibition of irrelevant associations might also contribute to fact retrieval difficulties (see Barrouillet & Fayol.g. This question was explored in a single case intervention study with two participants considered to have specific language impairment (SLI).
after which the intervention was applied.edu. the Paired-Associate Word Learning Test (WMSR.. The answers and time taken for each trial of every task were recorded on the computer. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . The children heard instructions through headphones and viewed examples of the task on the screen. The computer-administered tasks were constructed and carried out using the NEURE program. 1993). 10 years and 1 girl. They had participated in an extended compulsory education programme and were attending a state school for children with SLI. 10. The children were drawn from a larger sample collected for a group assessment study conducted in spring 2002 (see Koponen et al.fi/ oppimateriaalit/neure). thus enabling it to be more powerfully argued that the improvements found in the children’s calculation performances were due mainly to the intervention and not. They had been diagnosed by a phoniatrist using the ICD-10 criteria (WHO. These two participants were chosen on the grounds that. The children were instructed to answer as quickly as possible by pressing any key on the keyboard. The additions were in random order. Method Participants The participants were two 10-year-old Finnish speaking children (1 boy. while they both had calculation difficulties (calculation fluency was at the level of 6-year-old preschoolers without any formal education in arithmetic). only one of them had difficulty in fluent language-based retrieval. They were studying mathematics according to their individual educational plan (IEP). for example. 1982) to examine the effects of this computer-aided intervention on the calculation skill acquisition of two children with SLI.Tuire Koponen et al. The effects of the intervention were assessed at three follow-up assessments. a graphical experiment generation tool (see http://www. A multiple baseline acrosssubjects design was used (Kazdin. The differences in the intervals between the baseline assessments were designed to enhance the validity of interpretation of the intervention effect. After pressing a key the addition disappeared and a box for the answer appeared with the cursor in it. Addition task. counting. to teaching at school or maturation during the intervention. sentence comprehension and vocabulary). They were matched in non-verbal reasoning skill. 2006). Child A (male) had a one-week interval between the first and second and a three-week interval between the second and third pre-intervention assess100 ments. In addition. Measures At each of the six assessments the children were presented with 31 simple additions to be done using a computer. using special education textbooks (concise versions of the standard books) for second graders (aged 8 to 9 in Finland). 1995) was administered in order to determine the participants’ ability to learn verbal associations. while Child B (female) had three baseline pre-intervention assessment sessions in eight days. Each testing session was also recorded on video. respectively. Wechsler. after the first post-intervention assessment. 5 years) with specific language impairment comprising both receptive and expressive language. Both participants had their first post-intervention session three days after their last intervention and their second and third assessments one week and one-month. intervention and posttests (see Figure 1). Single-digit additions using permutations from one to nine were presented one at a time in a horizontal format on a computer screen. linguistic skills (digit span. 10. The children were instructed to write the answer and to mouse-click an on-screen “OK” button. Their raw and standard scores are presented in Table1. After giving the answer the children were asked how they calculated this addition. and non-verbal numerical skills (comprehension of numbers presented in Arabic numerals and as play-money and estimation). The different strategies (fact retrieval. Design The intervention study was run in three phases: pretests.
The task consisted of two training 101 . max. raw score. e Paired-Associate Word Learning Test (WMS-R).Laguage-based retrieval difficulties in arithmetic Children Child A Raw score Standard score Raw score (M 10. The testing sesEducational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 sion was also recorded on video and the children’s strategies were confirmed afterwards. max. c Word finding vocabulary test (Renfrew. 20. Figure 1: Multiple baseline design counting on the fingers. raw score. 1993). Korkman. i Estimation. 1974. h Moneybag. raw score of 3 and 6 trials. max. the Finnish version Ahonen. max. RAN. raw score. Sd 3) 6 13 38 57 72 9/22 24 3 4 NA 5 1 N/A 74 6 14 33 43 52 14/36 25 Task Language skill Digit Spana Comprehensionb Vocabulary c Naming colors d Naming objects d Paired-Associate Word Learning Teste RCPM (IQ)f Non-verbal number skill Comparison of numbersg Pre Post Comprehension of numbersh Estimationi Child B Standard score (M 10. d Rapid automatised naming (colors and objects. g Number comparison. max. decomposition) were introduced and gone through with the children before the testing. 21. raw score. raw score. Tuovinen & Leppäsaari. f Raven’s Coloured Progressive Matrices (Raven. time in seconds. raw score. raw score. Kirk & Kemp. 24/48. 15. 50. 1999). b Sentence comprehension (NEPSY. Wechsler. 1991). 2001). Note : a Digit Span task (Wisc-III. Sd 3) 3 6 NA 10 9 N/A 78 11 12 10 5 6 7 10 6 Table 1: Background measures. max. 20. Denkla & Rudel. 1997).
In the second. 2 red and 3 blue or 2 blue and 3 red balls. In the present intervention study the children received instruction and training in the use of more efficient calculation strategies. mathematical problems were presented in visual quantities without any arithmetical symbols. hence the aim of this task was to strengthen the memory-associations between the addends and the answers with the support of the relevant conceptual knowledge. Throughout the intervention the children were encouraged to retrieve Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . items and 31 assessment items. despite the arrangement or order of the objects (e. All the training tasks were single-digit additions using permutations from one to nine. mathematical problems were presented both in visual quantities and in arithmetical symbols. the final amount is always the same. the order-irrelevance principle in addition was introduced. each session lasting 45 minutes. Previous studies (e. you have 2 balls and you get 3 more or you have 3 balls and you get two more). 2 3 3 2 5). The 15 different additions were selected so that each was of the same average level of difficulty according to Wheeler´ ranking (see Wheeler. There were three parallel versions. mathematical problems were presented in arithmetical and number symbols without the corresponding visual quantities. The children were encouraged to identify the quantities without counting. Intervention. why it was the same (relating this practice with the earlier one). In these exercises counting-on strategies did not adapt well. there was practice in such tasks as memorization of pairs of numbers which equal a given numerical outcome (e. positive feedback was given and the same problem was presented with arithmetical symbols and numbers. s Three scores were derived: calculation speed. each with 16 identical and 15 different additions. After the children had solved the problem correctly. After that the same idea was presented in the addition context with numbers and the symbol for the operation: the sum of a certain two numbers is always the same. During the computer games the children were observed and reminded to use the counting-on min strategy if they used the counting-on max strategy.g. Next. name them and say the sum aloud.g. Faster counting may also increase calculation accuracy by shortening the counting process – a rather error-prone procedure. the child was asked to calculate the addition 2 9 and write down the answer. in accordance with the typical development of calculation strategies such as learning to use the counting-on min instead of counting-on max strategy. Moreover. ‘try to find all number pairs which equal 4’). which way it was faster and easier to calculate and how they could use this information when calculating other additions like 3 9 or 4 7. The children had to solve the problem and then write the correct answer by pressing the number key.g. Direct retrieval was trained both with computer tasks and board games.Tuire Koponen et al. After that it was discussed with the child whether the answer was the same or different. Second. The tasks were of three kinds. In the first. despite the order in which they are pre102 sented (e. 2003) have shown that children with mathematical learning difficulties benefit more from strategy instruction than from instruction through drill and practice. A faster counting strategy increases the possibility of having all the terms present at the same time in working memory in order to form and store the associations between the terms. The counting-on min strategy was introduced by using two kinds of practices: first. the child was asked to calculate 9 2 and write the answer. accuracy and fact retrieval strategy. Tournaki. The first author conducted all the intervention sessions during class time in a secluded room at the school. 1939). This was done with concrete material by demonstrating that when two sets containing items x and y are combined. In the third.g. The intervention was conducted twice weekly for a period of about two months.
The third compared the children’s pre and post intervention performances. Raw scores for calculation speed were subjected to a non-parametric Friedman Test. Data Analysis The analysis was performed in three steps.001). At the time of the second post assessment session. with no significant differences in their calculation speed between the three post assessments. which is a nonparametric equivalent of a one-sample repeated measures design. but not for child A (exact p . The nonparametric tests were used because the variables were not normally distributed and the database was small. which is identical to the Friedman test but is applicable where all the variables are binary. while for the effects on calculation accuracy and fact retrieval strategy significant differences were found for child B (Q 29. For this purpose the baseline data were combined as were the follow-up data.05 and exact p .05). Both the number of assessments (k) and sample size (N) exceeded five and so the value of statistic (denote as Fr) was distributed approximately as 2 with df k 1 (Siegel & Castellan.05).79. However. with no significant differences in the children’s calculation speed between the three pre assessments.001 and Q 44. In calculation accuracy child B had both a stable baseline (exact p . Calculation performance during the baseline and follow-up In calculation speed both children had a stable baseline (exact p .48 exact p . p . During the baseline assessments child B did not use the fact retrieval strategy at all. The medians for Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 calculation speed as well as percentage of accuracy and use of the fact retrieval strategy at each baseline and follow-up assessment session are presented in Figure 2. which most likely influenced her performance during the session. exact p . The researcher gave additional positive feedback when the children retrieved a fact from memory when playing the computer and board games. Both children also had a stable follow-up. The baseline variable thus included all three baseline assessments (93 additions) and the follow-up variable all three follow-up assessments (93 additions). child B’s teacher reported that she had had a ‘bad day’. The first examined whether there are any significant differences on the children’s calculation performances (on calculation speed. 1988). with no significant differences in her calculation accuracy between either the three pre assessments or between the three post assessments. and thus her baseline score was not subjected to analysis. p .001 and child B Fr 72. 1988).05) and stable follow-up (exact p .05). The raw scores for calculation accuracy and fact retrieval strategy were subjected to the non-parametric Cochran test. strong pressure or prohibition from using counting-based strategies was avoided. Nevertheless. During the follow-up B showed significant differences in the use of the fact retrieval strategy in the first and second compared to the third post assessment session (exact p . The second examined whether the children’s calculation performances within the baseline and follow-up were stable. accuracy and fact retrieval strategy) between the six assessment sessions. 103 .27. Results The test for the possible effect of the assessment sessions on calculation speed showed a significant Fr value for both children (child 23.01). retrieving fewer facts from her memory in the first (23 per cent) and second (10 per cent) than in the third (42 per cent) assessment.001). The sample size (N) exceeded four and the product Nk was greater than 24 and so the value of statistic (denote as Q) was distributed approximately as 2 with df k 1 (Siegel & Castellan. and been upset and tearful. A Fr 36.Laguage-based retrieval difficulties in arithmetic answers from their memory. Both of the children were well motivated and co-operative and participated willingly in each intervention session.
Comparison of calculation performance before and after the intervention.77.00 % 6000 Accuracy Fact retrieval Speed 40. Child A showed significant differences in calculation speed between the baseline assessment and followup (Fr 25. exact p .00 % 2000 0. He did not use the fact retrieval strategy in the first or second post assessment at all. 3. Child B showed significant differences in calculation speed.001). 1. exact p .g.001). 104 At the baseline both children used counting-based strategies. exact p .00 % 4000 20. accuracy and fact retrieval strategy of child A 100. 4. Q 24.00 % BL1 BL2 BL3 FO1 FO2 FO3 0 Figure 2: Calculation performance of child A and child B the assessment was done.14. 2. being faster after the intervention was applied.001. more accurate and using significantly more fact retrieval after than before the intervention. although he used it Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . However.00 % 8000 60.001. he was able to learn the counting-on min strategy (instead of counting-on max strategy). accuracy and usage of the fact retrieval strategy (Fr 21.00 % 6000 Accuracy Fact retrieval Speed 40. 3 5 3.00 % BL1 BL2 BL3 FO1 FO2 FO3 0 Calculation speed.00 % 4000 20. The intervention did not help child A to shift from counting to fact retrieval.Tuire Koponen et al. Q 23. As before. particularly the counting-on max strategy. 5) until they got the answer (8). as rescheduling was not possible. At the third post assessment he remembered only one answer (8 1 9). using a ‘following number’ rule rather than fact retrieval to solve it.04. exact p .00 % 2000 0.00. Calculation speed.00 % 10000 80.00 % 10000 80. there were no significant differences in accuracy or the use of the fact retrieval strategy. accuracy and fact retrieval strategy of child B 100.00 % 8000 60. They took the first addend by lifting an equivalent number of fingers without counting and then joined it to the second addend by lifting one finger at a time while counting (e. being faster.
Laguage-based retrieval difficulties in arithmetic only in the first and second but not in the third post assessment. 1999). he was unable to retrieve eight associative pairs of words during the six trials in the WMS-R. 2006).. 1999. During the three follow-up sessions she used the fact retrieval strategy to solve 23 per cent. In addition. At least. fluently retrieving the names of familiar objects presented serially in the RAN. Because the participants were matched in all other linguistic and non-verbal reasoning skills. In addition she was able to learn the counting-on min strategy (instead of counting-on max strategy) and used it in all the post assessment sessions. The primary focus of the study was to examine the effect of an intensive intervention on the calculation skill of two participants: one had difficulties in both fluent calculation and language-based retrieval (child A) while the other had difficulties only in calculation (child B). 2006). The aim of this study was to explore further the question whether the development of calculation fluency shares some of the underlying processing abilities required in fluent retrieval of the names of objects or colours. Although both of them calculated significantly faster after the intervention. These analyses indicated that child B had severe difficulties in understanding the structure of Arabic numbers and their connections to magnitude. Koponen and others (2006) found that rapid serial naming of objects and colours differentiated those children with SLI who after several years of practice still depended on slow calculation strategies in single-digit additions and subtractions from those who had learnt to retrieve those same calculations from memory (Koponen et al. such as the digit span. It was of interest that child A. Some of the more recent theories propose that a number-specific module could be responsible for calculation deficit (Butterworth. Before the intervention both participants used a finger-counting strategy (counting-on max) only. who was unable to retrieve facts from memory. These propositions are in line with the theory of Geary (1993). For instance. had difficulties in Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 .. In contrast. it can be said that he did not form representations of arithmetical facts which were retrievable later. Likewise. who has suggested that fact retrieval problems are a reflection of a more general problem in the ability to represent and retrieve phonetic information from long-term memory. The question to be considered was whether difficulties in fluent language-based retrieval had an impact on learning to retrieve arithmetical facts from long-term memory. only child B was able to progress partially from using finger counting to fact retrieval. In contrast. the number skills of the participants were analysed. Their ability at matching Arabic numbers with play money as well as estimating the dis105 Discussion Previous studies have shown that children with SLI have difficulties in retrieving arithmetical facts from memory (Fazio. child A’s performance in number comparison was closer to that of educational age controls and he did not commit errors with 2-digit numbers. both children performed alike in the other linguistic and cognitive tasks. the difference in their ability to benefit from the intervention suggests that a specific language difficulty in retrieving could be one aspect causing the fact retrieval difficulty. During the intervention child B was able to shift from finger-counting strategies to fact retrieval. In order to see whether these theories offered a potential explanation of the present findings. 10 per cent and 42 per cent of all items. she had difficulties in selecting the largest 2-digit number out of three items. Koponen et al. in which both were able to recall three digits forward (short-term memory) and two digits backward (working memory). it should be considered whether child A’s weak performance in learning associative pairs of words is an indication of a storing difficulty. This in turn could explain the coexistence of arithmetical and reading difficulties.
E-mail: tuire. Tuovinen. (1974). 10. Memory & Cognition. Finland. Cognition. 83–120. That is. B.. What counts: How every brain is hardwired for math. Cortex. & Clark. & Fayol.B. & Rudel. Cognitive arithmetic: A review of data and theory.fi Institute. enhancing her accuracy and speed. (1998). M. 117. tance between numbers was very similar. which. 355–368. Child A was rather accurate from the start and thus the rewards obtained by changing his strategy may not have been as high for him as for Child B. both of the children were co-operative. according to our interpretation. short-term memory and language performance in children 106 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Young children with specific language impairment and their numerical cognition. There are several possible explanations. Arvedson. the intervention was restricted. (1999). S. New York. The results suggest that the particular nature of the language impairment has a major impact. & Leppäsaari. Campbell. 44. which in turn enabled her to form correct associations between the terms of the problem and the answer.I. might have an impact on the learning of arithmetical facts. Rapid ‘automatized’ naming of pictured objects. Research reports. this is an unlikely explanation in view of the fact that Child A was not resistant to the intervention. focusing only on simple addition through very intensive practice with immediate feedback and a large amounts of repetition. 45.koponen@nmi. Butterworth. 75–106. (2002). J. 186–202. child B did not present language difficulties of a type. During the intervention her counting strategy progressed considerably.Tuire Koponen et al. Nopean sarjallisen nimeämisen testi [The test of rapid serial naming. 26. Moreover. From algorithmic computing to direct retrieval: Evidence from number and alphabetic arithmetic in children and adults. (1988). Journal of Speech. Nilo Maki Jyvaskyla.J. motivated and participated willingly in each intervention session. However. Arithmetic calculation. Dehaene.M. P. the present study shows the importance of defining in detail the particular SLI phenotype when trying to understand the role played by language in arithmetical difficulties. Language.B. compared to the teaching in the classroom. The results also raise questions as to how it is possible that child B had not learned simple arithmetical facts during her 4-years schooling. Third. despite her SLI. (1999). before the intervention child B committed many errors of calculation owing to her use of an errorprone counting strategy. (1995). Denckla. References Ahonen. colors. Mathematical Cognition. (1992). but started to use the counting-on min strategy during the intervention. (1999). Another possible explanation for the results could be that the motivation to change strategies may not have been same for both children.H. & Cohen. and Hearing Research. Ashcraft. T. R. Thus. J. Barrouillet. S. Fazio. Towards an anatomical and functional model of number processing.]. it can be concluded that a difference in number skills at the outset did not explain the differences found in the effects of the intervention. An encodingcomplex view of cognitive number processing: Comment on McCloskey. 970–982. References Tuire Koponen. Sokol & Goodman (1986). First. and yet learned them during the two months’ intervention. indicating that children with language impairment have a specific problem in fact retrieval. 1. M. 204–214. T. P. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Tutkimusraportit. In addition to lending support to earlier findings. L. who made more errors in the beginning but showed a good increase in accuracy during the intervention. letters and numbers by normal children. M. B. a specific difficulty in verbal retrieval and in forming verbal associations seems to be connected to the ability to learn arithmetical facts. Jyväskylä: Haukkarannan koulun julkaisusarjat. Second.D.
Fuson. Carpenter. Caramazza. F. 77.R.M. Tieche Christinat. Language.nmi. Mathematical disabilities: Cognitive. Basic numeracy in children with specific language impairment: Heterogeneity and connections to language. Word finding vocabulary test (4th ed). Korkman. neuropsychological. Renfrew. 36. S. Singapore: McGraw-Hill. Landerl. 99–125. Addition and subtraction: A cognitive perspective (pp. K. 42. Journal of Learning Disabilities.. Siegel. 171–196. Representation and retrieval of arithmetic facts: Developmental difficulties.. World Health Organization (1993). 54. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. & Sherwood. Journal of Speech. T. 67–81). & Ahonen. (1993). Single-case research designs: Methods for clinical and applied settings. Numerical and arithmetical cognition: A longitudinal study of process and concept deficits in children with learning disability. Wheeler. M.1. (1993). Coloured progressive matrices.C. Conne. Developmental dyscalculia and basic numerical capacities: A study of 8–9-year--old students. Revised and reprinted. 142–143). Tournaki. P. In T. Romberg (Eds. A. WISC-III. M. F. S. Nonparametric statistics: for the Behavioral Sciences (2nd edn. J. N. Niilo Mäki Instituutti 2002. T. Finland: Psykologien Kustannus Oy. Wechsler Memory Scale – revised. Hamson.C.fi/neure/. Wechsler.K. Approche Neuropsychologique des Apprentissages chez l’enfant. Helsinki. A. A. C.C. U.L.. & Butterworth. C. Kirk. (1982). (1982). Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.). Finland: Psykologien Kustannus Oy. 229–293). WMS-R... (1985). (2000). & Shrager. 420–421. and Hearing Research. Kazdin. (2001). R. Origins of cognitive skills (pp. New York: Oxford University Press. 345–362.C. Geary.jyu. [Wechsler Intelligence Scale For Children]. Number processing in language impaired schoolchildren.. The differential effects of teaching addition through strategy instruction versus drill and practice to students with and without learning disabilities. J. (1995). 1–16. 449–458. Journal of Genetic Psychology. J. Cognitive mechanisms in number processing and calculation: Evidence from dyscalculia. Inc. A.E. Temple.Laguage-based retrieval difficulties in arithmetic with specific language impairment: A 5-year follow-up. 55. D. NJ:Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. C. & Basili. Strategy choices in addition and subtraction: How do children know what to do? In C. (2006). 93. Wechsler. B.. Geneva. Cognition. (1995).S. Finland: Psykologien kustannus. Lasten neuropsykologinen tutkimus [NEPSY: A developmental neuropsychological assessment]. Sophian (Ed. (1997). Siegler. The ICD-10 classification of mental and behavioural Disorders: Diagnostic criteria for research (pp. (1984).2003. 46. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 107 . Räsänen. Hillsdale. 236–263. 114. and genetic components. (1939). & Gaillard. NEPSY. Helsinki. hors série. C. Journal of Speech. NEURE-programme: http://www. Language and Hearing Research.M. D. R.. An analysis of the counting on solution procedure in addition. M. (2003). Bicester: Speechmark Publishing Ltd. Koponen. & Hoard.P. (2002). & Kemp.O. Brain and Cognition.J (1988). & Castellan N. 52–57. Inc. K.) (pp. McCloskey. Oxford: Oxford Psychologists Press Ltd. (1991). Raven. Geary. Helsinki. S. L.A. D. (2004). 174–183). A comparative study of the difficulty of the 100 addition combinations.).2. 4. 733–752. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Bevan. Mononen. D. Wechslerin lasten älykkyysasteikko. Moser & T. 295–312. Inc. Psychological Bulletin.
whilst Wave 2 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 © The British Psychological Society 2007 . amongst adults. short term intervention to address ‘fundamental errors and misconceptions’ (DfES. research-based programme which was first developed in the 1990s. but no corresponding team for such needs in numeracy. Wave 3 is intended for pupils in Key Stage 2. then. There is. We show how Mathematics Recovery implements this approach to assessment and teaching. 2004 and 2005a). This is reflected in the resources which Local Authorities have allocated to the two areas: in many Authorities there will be a team of specialist literacy teachers to address Special Needs in literacy. short term small group interventions. There is an underlying model of how children acquire strategies and numerical knowledge. The paper concludes with some evidence of how the above has impacted on teachers’ professional development and changed classroom practice in Cumbria. and Wave 3 being a more individualised. and an explicit set of principles of good teaching. there has traditionally been more emphasis placed upon addressing children’s literacy difficulties. Since the introduction of the National Numeracy Strategy’s ‘Framework for teaching mathematics’ in 1999.Achieving new heights in Cumbria: Raising standards in early numeracy through mathematics recovery Ruth Willey. The longterm consequences of numeracy difficulties are serious: research suggests that. which we argue is dynamic in character. through the design. intensive. The paper reflects on the nature of ‘best practice in assessment for learning’ (DFES 2005b). the number of children achieving the target level for their age in mathematics at the end of Key Stage 2 has increased by 16 per cent 108 (DfES. a pressing need to address this area. we do have evidence both of the existence of children’s difficulties with numeracy. The MR materials include short-term. 1997). The Primary National Strategy has responded through its model of ‘waves’ of intervention: Wave 1 being high quality learning and teaching for all in daily lessons. than on addressing their numeracy difficulties. which is based on a sound theoretical and evidence base. This work is an example of how teachers and educational psychologists can work together to develop and disseminate good practice in teaching. individual teaching programmes. as well as group and class teaching. However. Support for numeracy difficulties Within the British educational system. It reports data showing how children’s numeracy improved as a result of the programme. poor numeracy is more disadvantageous in the labour market than is poor literacy (Basic Skills Agency. with a steady proportion of children achieving below level 3. and of the disadvantage which people with poor numeracy skills suffer in adult life. with the assessor playing a mediating role. Mathematics Recovery (MR) is an evolving. between 2001 and 2004 (DfES. implementation and evaluation of programmes of shortterm intervention. Wave 2 being targeted. and describes effective elements of the in-service teacher training programme which was implemented. in that the assessment is embedded in the teaching. 2005b). Amanda Holliday & Jim Martland Abstract This article describes how standards in early numeracy were raised within Cumbria by the application of the Mathematics Recovery Programme. Thus. But there is still a long tail of children who do not achieve the target level. in order to meet the needs of children who were not reaching age-related expectations for numeracy skills. supporting the learner to construct and elaborate their own model of number. 2005b).
1998). Following the assessment. Assessment. teachers can employ an especially developed instructional approach and distinctive instructional activities which can be applied to individuals in small-group or class situations. It emerged from detailed research studies of how children’s number knowledge develops (Wright. 2002). Aubrey. Canada. Stanger. These individual teaching programmes were evaluated. From this. In her recent review ‘What Works for Children with Mathematical Difficulties’. The key features and origins of the mathematics recovery programme The key features of MR can be summed up under four headings – Early Intervention. the UK and Ireland. (Wright et al. Stafford & Martland. intensive individual programme for pupils in Year 1 of Key Stage 1. published form (Wright. it was a short term. planning instruction which is focussed just beyond the child’s current levels of knowledge. to enable individual children’s knowledge to be described in the terms of the model.. The approach has been further developed into its current. 1991). that is. The Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Assessment in the mathematics recovery programme Mathematics Recovery involves a distinctive approach to assessing young children’s numerical knowledge. 1991. 1993. The origins of this method are in research projects conducted in the 1980s and 1990s that focused on understanding children’s numerical strategies for addition and subtraction and the modifications children make to their strategies 109 . Wright. MR was originally developed in New South Wales. the MR programme has also been developed so that it can be applied more widely than just as an individual programme.Achieving new heights in Cumbria might be regarded as being early intervention to prevent children from falling behind. the USA. Stafford & Stanger. Wave 2 and Wave 3. teaching programmes for individual children and a book on using the approach in classroom teaching. and shown to be very successful in moving children on through the stages and levels of the model. As will be seen below. and it can be used as part of Wave 1. and thus constituted intervention to prevent failure. entire programme provides an extensive professional development course to prepare the specialist teachers. 2006. the assessment of children’s early number strategies and knowledge. international use. YoungLoveridge. Teaching and Professional Development. Ann Dowker reviews MR very positively.. individualised. MR is now in wide. Wright. The programme has a detailed approach to. a model of the usual course of this learning was constructed. New Zealand. and cites it as one of the two available large-scale. 2004). intended to move children on through the model. and ongoing collegial and leader support for these teachers. between 1992 and 1995. 1989. Wave 3 is targeted at children who have made unsatisfactory progress across the three years of infant-aged schooling. There are not many such documented intervention programmes available for the Key Stage 1 age group. Martland & Stafford. The assessment and teaching strands use a strong underpinning theory of young children’s mathematical learning which leads to a comprehensive and integrated framework for both assessment and teaching. short-term teaching intervention for low-attaining 5–8year-old children by specialist teachers. The programme also has an intensive. componential programmes based on cognitive theories of arithmetic (Dowker. 1994. In 2002 the Cumbria LEA piloted and then implemented the Mathematics Recovery programme which complements all three waves of intervention. and specific diagnostic tools for. by working in a very detailed way within the child’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). In its original form. and assessment tools and techniques were developed. Wright et al. in Australia. Martland. Materials now include assessment tools. 2006. Wright and his colleagues went on to design an individual teaching approach and materials. earlier than Wave 3 and more intensive than Wave 2.
This work drew on an extensive range of research (Steffe. Steffe & Cobb. First. 1989. because the assessment tasks are organised into task groups. it is insufficient to think that every child’s early numerical knowledge develops along a common developmental path. it is useful to consider the notion 110 of the relative sophistication of children’s strategies. For example. Steffe.Ruth Willey et al. will construct the situation idiosyncratically and thus different kinds of learning are likely to occur. In 1998 the approach was extended to include a focus on children’s early multiplication and division knowledge. Further. is using a far less sophisticated strategy than the child who ignores the counters and says nine plus three is the same as ten plus two. 1988. Underlying the development of MR is a belief that in early number learning it is very important to understand. Wright. 1991a).g. a MR Team consisting of a Numeracy Consultant (two days per week). and then counting all of the counters from 1 to 12. over time (e. or learning situation. We refer to the progression as SEAL (Stages of Early Arithmetical Learning). listen and engage in questions with the child in order to detect the most sophisticated strategy the child uses. 1998). Children reconstruct or modify their current strategies and doing so is nothing more or less than progression. As indicated by the research of Denvir & Brown (1986a. advancement or learning. it is interview based and second. across children. they are easily adapted to situations involving small or large group instruction. Steffe et al. Steffe & Cobb. Understanding the progression of the strategies which children use in early number situations is the key to advancing teaching staffs’ professional knowledge and learning. 1986b). The benefit of not having to make notes is that the assessor is free to observe. relates to the nature of the settings in which the child’s prior learning has occurred. early numerical knowledge is characterized by both commonalities and diversity. Children’s early numerical knowledge varies greatly and their strategies are multifarious. 1982. Implementation of mathematics recovery in Cumbria Cumbria began its involvement with MR on a small scale in 2002 with a group of eight teachers. They are: Stage Stage 0: Stage 1: Stage 2: Stage 3: Stage 4: Stage 5: Significant tasks Emergent Counting Perceptual Counting Figurative Counting Initial Number Sequence Intermediate Number Sequence Facile Number Sequence Assessment tasks as a source of instructional activities Virtually all of the assessment tasks are ideally suited for adaptation to instructional activities. and I know that is 12 without counting. one important factor in a particular child’s developmental path. For example. Subsequently. 1992b. an Educational Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . observe and take account of children’s knowledge and strategies when solving tasks. 1994. Given this. it is believed. the child who has no means of working out nine plus three other than counting out nine counters from one. two Numeracy Consultants and one Educational Psychologist. The child’s process of constructing numerical knowledge can be thought of in terms of progression or advancement. 1988. Mulligan. instructional sequence. children who may appear to an observer to be in the same setting. Also. 1998) and the Count Me In Too project (NSW Department of Education and Training. counting out three counters from one. although the tasks are presented in a format for one-toone interaction. the tasks within a task group or across several groups typically constitute an implied. The assessment in MR is distinctive on two counts. Thus. Cobb & Steffe.. the assessment interview is videotaped so that the teacher does not need to record the child’s responses during the course of the interview. Again. 1983.
which represents almost one third of the primary schools in Cumbria. A major focus is the running of an annual course to train teachers and teaching assistants. There is a total of seven centrebased training days. with assessment being covered in the first term. These increases are similar to those reported in the Australian MR research.Achieving new heights in Cumbria Psychologist (half a day per week) and three teachers (one day per week each) has worked to support and develop the use of MR within the County. Staff who successfully complete the MR training are able to apply for funding to run individual MR programmes. The teachers and assistants have worked closely together on the programmes for children. No stages gained April 04 – March 05 100 pupils April 05 – March 06 110 pupils % of total 9 4 6. As Ann Dowker says.g. ‘Relatively small amounts of individual intervention may make it possible for a child to benefit far more fully from whole class teaching’ (Dowker. and design and run a teaching programme with an individual child. See Table 1 below. 97 schools have undertaken the training. 2004). Evaluating how well the children have generalised and adapted the learning is more difficult. and the teaching programme in the second term. and have found this particularly helpful in the development of their skills. for pupils whom they have assessed as functioning well below the expected levels on the MR assessments. Holliday. so far the small number of pupils who have not made a gain of at least one SEAL stage during their MR individual programme have all made measurable gains in these other aspects. including missing addends and missing subtrahends (Stage 3 on SEAL)). they move from having to see and count concrete objects in order to add two sets (Stage 1 on SEAL) to being able to work without visible objects and to ‘countup-from’ and ‘count-down-from’ to solve addition and subtraction problems.2 1 stage gained 26 31 27. to identifying numerals and recognising spatial patterns. 2006) Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 111 .1 2 stages gained 44 57 48. Most pupils make gains of two SEAL stages (e. half an hour each. (The training has also been found useful by some special school and secondary school teaching staff).8 4 stages gained 2 6 0. The course takes place over two terms. Indeed. During the course. with two or more tutor visits to participants’ schools. taking place three or four times a week – whereas the Australian programmes were more than twice this length). Schools have been encouraged to send a teacher and teaching assistant on the course together. participants engage in video-taped practice assessments. in order to promote the use of the programme later in school at both the classroom and individual child level. The effectiveness of these programmes is evaluated.04 Table 1: Gains in SEAL stages made by 210 Cumbrian pupils who received individual programmes (Holliday. although the Cumbrian programmes are shorter in duration (about 20 sessions. They also increase their ability in other aspects of number: saying forward and backward number word sequences. So far. for a summary of the gains in SEAL stages made by 2 1 0 Cumbrian pupils who received individual programmes between April 04 and March 06. through analysis of pupils’ results on the MR assessments before and after the programme. 2005.1 3 stages gained 19 12 14.
consistently say that the pupils are performing better in class. or on National Numeracy Strategy objectives which had been tracked back to earlier curriculum stages. The development of the MR work within Cumbria would not have been possible without dedicated funding for the project. which will inform both what is taught next. work to develop ICT materials for whole class use. These include the publication of guidance for schools on the use of MR for group work and for work in the Foundation Stage. The MR teacher role is critical here: it is to select appropriate problems for the child. and comparing results with comparable pupils who did not. it was possible to argue the case for some of the existing Special Needs resources to be directed towards numeracy. but as an integral and ongoing facet of the teaching. detailed analysis of the strategies the child is using. as the child’s responses during teaching are observed closely. within a framework which is constructivist in its nature. strengths and weaknesses. there is an annual budget which pays for the salaries of the MR Team. with small but welltargeted prompts from the MR teacher. However. This was not initially available. and when it does is usually associated with the learning of basic facts (such as the words in the forward number word Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Why does MR work so well? Our ongoing evaluation of the work suggests that MR is highly effective. This is not didactic teaching: modelling of solutions rarely happens. support the child successfully to find their own solution to the problem and help the child to reflect on what they are doing.Ruth Willey et al. observes the child working. and cover ground which is also in the Numeracy Strategy. its central purpose is to allow a qualitative. Currently. Although the initial assessment does give summative information about the levels and stage at which the child is functioning. work with teaching staff on using MR in the daily mathematics lesson. in the form of small group work based on National Numeracy Strategy Springboards. The aim is always to be working within the child’s Zone of Proximal Development (Lunt. we believe. 1993. Yet many of the MR teaching activities resemble those in other programmes. collected on tutorial and other visits to schools. The assessor presents the child with a problem. which highlights the child’s present strategies. Informal teacher reports. so that the child succeeds. It will soon be possible to analyse the mathematics SATs results from the end of Key Stage 1. So why is it so successful. 1995). especially when used 112 . including with children who have already received Wave 2 interventions. and possible next steps for development. with pupils who have some history of mathematics difficulty? A large part of the answer to this. lies in the way in which the assessment and teaching are used together. This profile is then used to design the teaching programme for the pupil. establishing regular support meetings to update staff and for them to share developments. to find out how the child thought whilst solving the problem. the MR team are developing other ways of supporting the use of MR in schools. and explores the child’s responses (through questioning and judicious presentation of new problems). In addition to staff training and monitoring of individual programmes. following the evaluation of the success of the first cohort of training. and the approach and materials which are used in the teaching. drawing on the range of available teaching activities within the MR materials. and that they have gained in confidence and independence. Lidz. and for the delivery of some individual programmes to pupils in schools. tracking those pupils who received a funded programme. This approach to assessment continues throughout the teaching programme. present them in a suitable setting. and used to guide the next teaching steps. The assessment is not seen just as a measure of what has been learned. This information is recorded (after the assessment interview) in a Pupil Profile.
2003). so it’s the number that comes just after 12. During the teaching sessions. manner (Skemp. Importantly. these constructs will be fully understood by the children. In an individual MR session. although she hesitated at 12. 1976). within MR. The problem-centred approach fosters this relational understanding. 24. by using less sophisticated strategies. choosing different prompts and settings. 1990). Elliott.e. the teacher can be regarded as engaging in Dynamic Assessment (Lidz. The teacher will observe closely. by locating the child’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) (i. This is a mediating role. through ‘developing a setting in which children can invent and discuss their own strategies’ (Cobb & Merkel. increasingly powerful concepts of number. and is similar to the teacher role in the Dutch ‘Realistic Mathematics’ work.. Ruijssnaars & Seegers. the children will not merely be following a learned ‘recipe’ for solving a particular. Thus. Because they have been developed by the children elaborating their concepts in the course of their own problem-solving. The problem-centred approach is used. As Wright expresses it. 1989). The role of the teacher is to mediate the child’s learning experience. and the following dialogue happens: T: What number comes straight after 12? G: 11 T: we’re going forwards. the child will be encouraged to Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 check their solutions. The section of dialogue and commentary below comes from an early session in a programme with Gertie. 1995. so that they are continuously elaborating their mental model of the number system. with a strong focus on how the child makes use of the support which the teacher offers. op cit). This will enable them to build links between their developing concepts. Thus. 1994. through solving the problems. 15. advances in the children’s knowledge occur when the children modify their current ways of operating in response to a problematic situation. in order to help the child to construct her responses. 1999) is essential. Programme extract: Session 2: work on forward number word sequence to 20 Gertie has been doing FNWS successfully. ‘for the constructivist teacher. to offer prompts that will lead the child towards developing more sophisticated strategies. and Gertie succeeds with 5. which they will be able to use as a basis for subsequent learning (Cobb & Merkel. if children are to become confident and independent learners who will be able to generalise and extend their knowledge in new contexts. rather than only an instrumental. the MR teacher continues to observe and assess the child’s responses. 2005). and allowing as much time as is necessary for the child to work on the problem. 29 and 7. this will be done by presenting the child with a problem which is slightly more difficult than those which the child has previously solved. which refers to pupils as engaging in ‘guided reinvention’. as a very important tool for ensuring that the teaching remains constructivist in its orientation. Milo. familiar type of problem (showing instrumental understanding). throughout the programme. the region where the child can only succeed with some support). a girl aged 6 years and 5 months. Such a ‘shift from procedures to reasoning’ (Wheatly & Reynolds. An example from a teaching programme may serve to illustrate the style of the teaching. A central aim of the MR programme is for children to develop their own. The teacher presents the Number Word After task. in a relational. and use their knowledge of what strategies and concepts that child already possesses. and stresses the importance of knowledge being constructed by the child. 113 .Achieving new heights in Cumbria sequence). and working with the child in this Zone. but will be able to devise their own strategies and algorithms for solving novel types of problem (showing relational understanding).’ (Wright. (Gravemeijer. The teacher is continuously making and testing hypotheses about what experiences will now help the child to develop further their models of number. The teacher then presents 12. showing how the teacher mediates the child’s learning.
19 T: Well done! 114 Perhaps the most powerful and positively evaluated session in the teaching course is one which is run as a class tutorial. She is slumped in her chair. from this extract. . . when she seems tired. what would come just after 19?. . Beyond individual programmes In its original form. until this is resolved. T: You’re going backwards. .) T puts numeral track away. with teacher mediation. . . . she works on this. and listen to her own voice saying the number after 19 : T: Can we do some counting forwards . Several interesting points emerge. with her hands up around her mouth. . T: Where’s 19? G points to 19 T: What comes just after it? G: 20 (Points to it. 18 .? (re-presents task. where teaching staff bring scenarios from their ongoing teaching programmes and ask the group to help them with teaching ideas (i. before revisiting 12 to check. focussed on how to set up an experience which will support that particular child to solve the problem in question. . and has more difficulty in concentrating. and decides to fine tune the teaching. What comes just before 20? G: … … … … … . and uncomfortable. what would come just before 20? G: … … … … … … … … . you’re doing the numbers before. from day to day. She seems to be signalling that she has had enough of this hard task. Gertie eventually succeeds with NWA for 12 and 19. and the teacher moves on to a different Key Topic. . . The teacher attempts to help her make that connection. She seems bored or tired.Ruth Willey et al. but T persists : In this extract. targeted at Year 1 aged children who were beginning to fall behind their peers in Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . First. G: 14 T: 12. T brings out a numeral track. . this is done verbally. This leads to exchange of ideas and rich discussion. T: What comes just after 19? G: 20 T: Good. after a long pause.) This teaching is in Gertie’s ZPD: she cannot do it independently. . . (She uses a series of graduated prompts: Did you count?… . The difficulty with 19 is then worked on. . through the choice of problems. . the number just after 19? (re-presents task) G: . T decides to try to get G to count forwards.do some counting forwards. MR was delivered to children as short term individual programmes.17 At this point. . This has not worked. . what comes next. . . . . T: Did you count? (G shakes her head. .) The teacher observes carefully. using the tutors and each other for support.. we’ll start at 18. . . beginning to squirm. . G: 19 T: 20 G: 21 T: OK. by encouraging her to count. .? G: 19… … … … … . but with a lot of difficulty.e. she has not connected this knowledge to the Number Word After task. . then asks a different question. T points to each number. from 11 to 20. and with external prompting. ideas for mediating the child’s experience). . If you were counting forwards. … .) G then succeeds with NWA 3 and 12 T: 19 G: 18 T: 19. G’s body language is interesting. but eventually gets there. . Future sessions will show that her counting skills vary a lot. . .13 T: Good. so what comes just after 19? G: 21 T: 19. How did you do that? G: I just thought in my head it was. but that they are also developing their teaching skills through working within their own ZPD. (Having discovered a difficulty with 12. She is also worse in the afternoons. If you were counting forwards. and waits) G: . and G reads them out correctly. . T: If you were counting. what would come just after 19? No reply from G. it becomes evident that not only are the teaching staff working within the children’s ZPD. . . At this point. Although Gertie can produce the Forward Number Word Sequence beyond 20. . Gertie has had enough of this task. . At this point in the course.
through using MR. it is extremely effective to work with an individual child. 2001). ● The teaching staff report that they can readily use existing classroom materials but now in a more effective way: they try to promote mental strategies through providing a set of integrated activities in multiple settings. Examples of this include: ● Teaching staff who attend the training often respond to the assessment course by spontaneously implementing changes in the way they deliver their class teaching.Achieving new heights in Cumbria numeracy. ● Some teaching staff are using the assessment materials to track children’s progress throughout the infant school. However. ongoing). It has been evaluated (through pre and post assessments of pupils. and developing ways of supporting them to move on. the MR Team take the view that. ● Teaching staff feel that their expertise in early numeracy is recognised within their school and feel that their skills are used to advantage. and 93 per cent of those programmes have so far been completed.) However. the availability of assessment tools which can be used to group children appropriately for working on particular learning objectives (Thomas & Ward. following 115 . increased focus on the strategies which individual children actually use. A research project is attempting to explore these changes. ● About half of the teaching staff who complete the course apply for funding to run individual programmes. so that it is better differentiated to match the children’s needs. op cit). They come to the second and subsequent training sessions keen to talk about changes they have already made. (In the financial year 2005–2006. where there is often the need to make a compromise. to organise groups of children for teaching. as well as questionnaires and case studies with teaching staff and facilitators involved in the programme) as highly successful. through in-depth Personal Construct Psychology interviews with staff (Willey. and does not deliver individual programmes to children. ● Teaching staff raise their expectations of what children can achieve. For example. or for staff training in particular areas of numeracy teaching. as a framework for the teaching of numeracy to all pupils. both in promoting pupil progress and in increasing teacher knowledge and understanding (Thomas & Ward. it has developed considerably beyond this. This implementation is called Count Me In Too (CMIT). funding was approved Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 for 111 programmes. Results so far suggest that staff constructs about teaching of number change markedly. This cannot be done so precisely when working with a group. many of the remaining teaching staff use the approach to make changes in their classroom teaching. This allows the teacher to work continuously at finding where the child is. and to pinpoint the need for specific interventions with particular children. The MR Team have formed the impression that many teaching staff develop their knowledge. They then find different ways to organise and present the activity. in initially learning to apply the principles of MR. Many focus initially on the ‘mental and oral starter’ part of their lessons. Key elements in the success of this group approach were found to be: increased teacher understanding of how children learn number. as colleagues consult them regarding children’s progress and the construction of teaching strategies. in New South Wales and in New Zealand the approach is used across the first three years of schooling. or to deliver teaching to small groups. noticing that most children are working in their ZPD for only a small part of this activity. or move on before one child is really ready. Although MR can be very effectively applied in whole class and small group contexts. understanding and practice of numeracy teaching considerably. The Cumbrian experience also shows that the effectiveness of MR goes well beyond the individual programmes.
Alongside this. Children’s Services. tailor and extend the activities. and in their own abilities to guide such learning. Cumbria County Council.gov. and to observe closely what they do ● A belief that children will learn effectively. This is because MR provides a structure within which staff feel safe to experiment with a more constructivist approach. away from the didactic and towards a more pupil-focused. Martland. this does not generally happen: the teaching staff adapt. The teaching activities given within the programme function as examples. CH2 4EH E-mail: jrmartland@btopenworld. The staff who were interviewed were asked to rate themselves on the construct ‘teaches numeracy very well’. The greatest power of Mathematics Recovery lies in its use as a tool for the professional development of teaching staff. Mathematics Recovery programme (UK) Ltd.uk A. It seems. then. to address more exactly the needs and interests of each child. Teachers and teaching assistants develop their knowledge. constructivist outlook. Chester. Children’s Services. 11 Station Lane. training and use of MR. The teaching staff have gained confidence in pupils’ abilities to learn in a constructivist way. to generate their own solutions to new situations. Conclusion We have shown how one Local authority has implemented Mathematics Recovery and evaluated its impact. this results in a significant shift in their teaching style. LA9 4RQ E-mail: amanda. Even staff with many years of experience felt that engaging with MR had moved their teaching on significantly. For many staff. The teaching staff are able to do this because they have learned to use the principles of MR. Cheshire. for both before and after the MR training. The Maths Recovery principles. rather than trying to plug gaps in their procedural knowledge ● Having an understanding of how children develop number knowledge ● A growing commitment to promoting pupils’ independent learning ● A belief that good teaching will be enjoyable and motivating for pupils ● Willingness to wait whilst pupils think. CA2 6LB E-mail: ruth.holliday@cumbriacc. assessment tools and activities work well at a number of levels: in individual programmes.gov. Individual pupils who receive MR programmes make good progress in basic numeracy skills.com 116 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 .Ruth Willey et al. and to offer appropriate support to help pupils learn. and that they do put this into practice in their subsequent work with pupils.willey@cumbriacc. Mickle Trafford. rather than transmitter of knowledge. Kendal Area Office. Newbeck Centre. that teaching staff do develop skills and knowledge through implementing MR. in group work and in informing good classroom teaching. Busher Walk. Address for correspondence Ruth Willey. Carlisle. Kendal. Although it would be possible to run individual programmes using only the teaching activities given.uk J. Staff who engage with Mathematics Recovery develop an enhanced faith in pupils’ ability to learn and to solve problems for themselves. All but one of them felt that they had improved. if they are given tasks within their ZPD and a small amount of support ● A view of the teacher as facilitator and guide. they become more confident in their own ability to assess where pupils are. Wigton Rd. skills and confidence to teach numeracy. Changes to constructs are in line with the underlying principles of MR. and include the following: ● Trying to take pupils back to first principles so they can build understanding. Cumbria County Council. Holliday.
M. Wellington: New Zealand Ministry of Education. Steffe & T. London: DfES. (1994). The mathematics recovery Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 117 . (1991). 68–80. Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (2004). Mathematics recovery evaluation of funding April 2004 to March 2005. Steffe. A. (1983). Raising standards in mathematics – Achieving children’s targets: Primary National Strategy. A. Basic Skills Agency (1997). Steffe. & Seeger. J.J. Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (2005a). 1786–2005 DOC-EN. In L. In H. (1999). Lidz. A. Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (Vol.. (2005). 3–41). Brisbane: Griffith University. Kanes. An evaluation of the Count Me In Too pilot project. Basic Skills Agency. Confrey (Eds. Cowper. Vygotsky. Cobb. Interactive communication: Constraints and possibilities.R. Doctoral Dissertation. 27–41. 77. Denvir. Wheatley. London: DfES. Schemes of action and operation involving composite units. 19(1). S. (1998). 3(1). & Ward. British Educational Research Journal. 2. P. R.). Mathematics Learning. 18(1). Wright. von Glasersfeld. (1989). A research-based framework for assessing early multiplication and division. A. J. Educational Review.M. & Stewart. & Cobb. Coming to know numbers. Children’s multiplying schemes. Milo. Skemp. New York: Praeger.) Charting the agenda: educational activity after Vygotsky. R. The Netherlands: CD-B Press. 1083-2005. J. Dynamic assessment and the legacy of L. 404–411). Math instruction for students with special educational needs: effects of guiding versus directing instruction. A. Dynamic assessment in educational settings: Realising potential. Steffe. Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (2005b). Denvir. (1993). Lunt. (2003). Wright. M. (1989) Thinking strategies: teaching arithmetic through problem-solving NCTM Yearbook. In C. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. & Brown. Transforming children’s mathematics education: International perspectives. Elliott. Practitioners’ guide to dynamic assessment. and application. 4. (1986a) Understanding of number concepts in low attaining 7–9 year olds: Part 1. C.. Children’s counting types: Philosophy.R. Daniels (Ed. The teaching studies. Mathematics recovery evaluation April 2005 to March 2006.). P.P. Lidz. New York: Guilford. L. Ruijssenaars. (1995).P. C. 15–36. Educational Studies in Mathematics. Holliday. Numerical development in the kindergarten year: A teaching experiment. R. Relational understanding and instrumental understanding. (1991). Australian Educational Researcher. (1990).. Reviewing the frameworks for teaching literacy and mathematics. B. Wright. School Psychology International. Thomas. Steffe.J. G. Richards. Unpublished report of Cumbria Children’s Services. Utrecht. L. Exploring issues in mathematics education.P. Dowker. R. Albany. K.E. R. Part 1: Helping children learn mathematics. Gravemeijer. NSW Department of Education and Training (1998). The practice of assessment. B. Unpublished report of Cumbria Children’s Services. I. What number knowledge is possessed by children entering the kindergarten year of school? Mathematics Education Research Journal.T.S. Warren (Eds. New York: Springer-Verlag. (1994).). M. Wright. (1986b) Understanding of number concepts in low attaining 7–9 year olds: Part II. Goos & E. 75–95. Educational Studies in Mathematics. 1–16.Wood (Eds. An investigation of the mathematical knowledge and competencies which young children bring into school. M. R. Sydney: NSWDET. Primary National Strategy. Targeting support: implementing interventions for children with significant difficulties in mathematics. 17. Mathematics Teaching. Mulligan. (1991a). University of Georgia. 6–25. 1075–2004. (2001). C. 143–153. Stanger.S. Count me in too: A professional development package. The Development of Multiplicative Reasoning in the Learning of Mathematics (pp. London: DfES. 17. 143–164. E. P.J... 20–26. (2004). Developing realistic mathematics Education. L. J. M. L. B. (1993). G.J.Achieving new heights in Cumbria References Aubrey. A. (1992b). 259–309. & Reynolds. theory.P. Holliday. 55(1)15–32. 16.. What works for children with mathematical difficulties? Nottingham: DfES Publications.F. (with E. Learning and Individual Differences. Primary National Strategy. pp. Harel & J. Wright. London: Routledge. (2006). von Glasersfeld) (1988). (1994).J. NY: State University of New York Press. & Cobb. 22(4). G. Educational and Child Psychology. R. An application of the epistemology of radical constructivism to the study of learning. (1976). Does numeracy matter? Evidence from the National Child Development Study on the impact of poor numeracy on adult life. G. In G. & Brown. Stafford. (2005). & Merkel. G. Development of descriptive framework and diagnostic instrument. Construction of arithmetic meanings and strategies.
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Elliott. HIS ARTICLE seeks to address the needs of educational psychologists currently working in the UK. when we are asked for an assessment. the strategies they bring to mathematical tasks and how they may.Educational psychologists’ assessment of children’s arithmetic skills Submission to special issue educational and child psychology september 2006 Susie Mackenzie Abstract This paper explores a range of tools and approaches available to Educational Psychologists asked to assess mathematical skills and understanding. research and practice. 2003: Tymms & Elliott. Webster & Wright. 1999. Miller & Leyden. The purpose of this article is to consider practical aspects of educational psychology work in the context of the other contributions to this special issue providing information about areas of theory. and assessment tools. or the question of labels. The main assessment tools and techniques commonly used by EPs are standardised tests. 2001. Assessment is frequently discussed in professional and academic Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 © The British Psychological Society 2007 T literature (Fredrickson. social experiences. It is intended to promote assessment that can lead to a good understanding of the child’s difficulties. curriculum based assessment. This article does not seek to revisit arguments about relative merits of specific forms of assessment. 2006). 119 . be able to use these skills in everyday life. observation and dynamic assessment. The aim here is to provide a relevant summary of research relating to maths learning. though at times there will be reference to needs of specific groups or whole school issues. There are a number of reasons for this article at this time: increasing understanding of the nature of mathematical skills. This article will focus on assessment of individual children as this continues to be a significant part of the work of educational psychologists. strategies and misconceptions and so that educational psychologists can provide appropriate advice and intervention. Freeman & Miller. It is suggested that when an EP has a good understanding of how mathematical skills develop and of the key cognitive skills. This more wide-ranging approach may be more time consuming but can give a better understanding of the gaps in the pupil’s understanding. attitudes and strategies that underpin progress then an interactive assessment style can emerge. or may not. 1991. and others. Compared with assessment of reading skills there are fewer standardised tests available for the assessment of mathematical skills and the validity of these is questioned. changes in the delivery of the maths curriculum and the introduction of particular interventions to address children’s difficulties with mathematical skills. to guide applied psychologists in their thinking when asked to do an assessment in relation to problems with numbers. which frequently arises in conversations with parents. I describe how observation combined with interactive questioning using a detailed guide developed in Leeds provides a useful and flexible adjunct to standardised tests and curriculum based assessment.
Dowker. 7. it may be better to think in term of a set of skills rather than a unitary skill (Munn. Another issue raised by Wiliam (2006) is that most maths assessment tools measure the children’s ability to compute. Webster & Wright (1991) that assessment by a psychologist needs to go beyond a description of what a child can or can’t do. to have a better understanding of WHY the child has this pattern of strengths or difficulties. 1998. Munn. conclude that there are multiple components that make up each person’s ability. but a more important ‘assessment question’ might be ‘Can this child go into a shop with a 50 pence piece. criterion-referenced (curriculum based) and dynamic assessment or analysis of the child’s responses in a learning situation. 2005). 10 or 15 year old be able to do? When the National Numeracy Strategy was introduced in England and Wales (DfES. 2004). 5. 2000). 2004. At its most basic we 120 might find that a child can give correct answers to test questions such as 3 2 5. Freeman & Miller (2001) repeated an assertion made originally by Fredrickson. Typical maths development and key skills Educational psychologists need to have some idea of what it would be reasonable to expect a child to know. Dowker. or take account of the evidence that there are wide variations in children’s levels and rates of development of maths understanding pre-school (Young-Loveridge. or one that enables us to play a role in improving or supporting learning? Do we want to do an assessment that gives us clues as to why the child is failing or one which gives us a score and tells us that the child is performing below average for their age? For educational psychologists one main purpose of an assessment of maths skills would be to formulate and test hypotheses about why a particular child is failing to progress or falling behind peers. and asked some questions that are equally relevant to psychologists involved in the assessment of maths skills. buy a packet of crisps and come out with the correct change?’ Therefore another key element or purpose behind an assessment of maths skills could be to find out how the child manages number problems in everyday life (Hughes. 2002). What maths tasks should an average 3. but this is not the same as the children’s numeracy: their ability to solve problems using mathematical knowledge in the real world. or do. Research on the development of children’s mathematical skills shows that maths development is far from a simple linear progression (Nunes and Bryant. though these did not necessarily relate to the available evidence relating to maths attainment (Hughes. 2005). 2000. Therefore our assessment will need to consider as many of these components as possible. In the context of maths teaching and learning Wiliam (2006) provided a thorough analysis of the role of assessment of maths learning for teachers.Susie Mackenzie The purpose of assessment of maths skills Freeman & Miller (2001) provided a ‘taxonomy’ of assessment with three main paradigms: norm-referenced (psychometrics). we may also want to assess children’s ability to say whether an answer is correct or reasonable or to know when they have been short changed in a shop. and that there are individual differences in the development of each of these components (see Dowker and Gervasoni in this issue). or even 50 20 30. 1996. Munn. at a particular age or stage of development. which is important. Donlan. and suggest that the aim of an assessment should be to help those around the child. Desforges & Mitchell. looking at teaching mathematics and development of arithmetic and mathematical skills. Recent reviews by Munn (2004) and Dowker (2005). 1999) specific targets were set for each year group. Do we want an assessment that tells us the child’s existing state of knowledge. 1989) and in first years of formal maths teaching (Hughes. and acknowledge that it is Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . or teaching the child. 2004. While it is important to assess what computations a child can and cannot do.
application of rules. Hembree. 1974. knowledge about number (Dowker. 1981. experiences with number and maths concepts (such as size. 1998). 1997. word decoding and understanding of texts are key ‘ingredients’ of a reading assessment. fluency of counting and speed of processing (Bull & Johnston. 2005). with boys and girls in equal 121 . myths and emotions about maths learning and how children develop self-perception as a learner of maths (Walkerdine. 2000). setting policies (Askew. Adams & Hitch. the quality of teaching. Mathematical skills and their development are complex. Sammons. To make an analogy with the assessment of reading difficulties most practitioners would agree that at least basic phonics. An assessment of maths and numeracy skills may need to include the following (depending on the age of the child and the description of the problem provided by their teacher or parent): understanding of basic concepts of size and sets (at perceptual and symbolic levels). 1990) and in the UK (Mackenzie. therefore a range of key skills or components of maths understanding need to be considered when doing an assessment. ability to solve problems using mathematical concepts and numbers in everyday life. Martland & Stafford. 2001). Applied psychologists will be aware of the role emotions play in all aspects of learning and assessment and there is an extensive research literature documenting negative emotions and problems with children’s self-perception as a learner of Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 maths. Dowker.Educational psychologists assessment of children’s arithmetic skills not necessarily helpful to make simplistic statements about what maths knowledge or skills an individual should have at a particular age.. 1990). Butterworth. 2002). For example. quantity. 1998) and even among students in Further and Higher sector of Education in USA (Betz. Boaler & Wiliam. classroom experience and willingness to solve real life problems using mathematical concepts and computation strategies. class size. understanding of the language of maths. procedures and holding numbers ‘in their head’ while calculating (Wright. 1978. nature of school curriculum and whether it connects with the child’s home experiences with number and maths concepts (Hughes. Ashcroft & Faust. 1989. Then there are another set of factors that could be described as interactive or environmental such as early everyday experiences relating to number. Europe and the Middle East). from UK children as young as eight years old (Newstead. 2003). and finally. to secondary age pupils (Walden & Walkerdine. 1997). working memory (Baddeley & Hitch. and how this is different to knowledge about how to carry out specific procedures with numbers (RittleJohnson & Seigler. Walkerdine. 1998). 2000. Hembree. 1998). 1985. 1994) is a particularly important area. Sylva et al. 1981. for example. 2001. attitudes to learning maths and selfperception as a learner of maths. Anxiety about learning and doing maths (Buxton. Buxton. 1980. computation strategies and procedures. * * * * is a set of four (Deheane. 1994) and advice on how to cope with or overcome fears that interfere with performance of maths skills (Tobias. There is evidence of the effects of anxiety on maths test performance (Ashcraft & Faust. shape) in the home (YoungLoveridge. 1998). number sense and ‘subitising’– the ability to recognise the number of objects in a visual display. Her summary of the evidence states that about five percent of children may experience difficulties learning number skills. strategies. memory for specific number facts such as times tables or number bonds. 2005). When thinking about factors underlying development of maths skills we can start with cognitive factors such as perception of quantity. Problems that can occur in the development of arithmetic and maths skills Gifford (2005) provided a comprehensive review of the literature and research evidence relating to maths difficulties in children from a range of countries (including USA. knowledge of the number system and counting skills. 2002).
For some children language deficits may contribute to difficulties understanding maths (Donlan. 122 slow speed of processing (Bull & Johnston. 2003). inappropriate targets for year groups driven by the National Numeracy Strategy and gaps in knowledge not picked up by teachers (Hughes. but is not an explanation of those capacities (Howe. Other difficulties contributing to problems with maths include use of inefficient computation strategies or misapplication of a learned strategy (Wright et al. the only agreed defining characteristic for ‘dyscalculia’ is poor arithmetic skills (in particular poor number fact recall) that persists despite appropriate teaching. particularly where the child being tested has limited communication skills or where spoken English is not their first language. but cannot connect this to the maths taught in the classroom (Nunes & Bryant. 2000) specific language disorders (Donlan. Staves. 2004). Performance on these tests can be an indication of capacities. the final number defines the set. 2000. Gifford. 1998). fixed order. 2000). Where a test includes written calculations it is important to check that the format and symbols used accord with those familiar to the child. coordination. Sylva et al. for example their understanding of number relating to real objects may not ‘connect’ with the mathematical language and symbolic number system used in classroom learning (Sammons. 2001). and consider the implications for test performance of. Some can rote count without understanding the principles underlying counting: count each object once and only once. Psychometric assessment Psychometric or ‘norm-referenced tests’ compare an individual with a large group of children. 2005). 1998) and hearing impairments (Nunes & Moreno. that difficulties with maths learning can co-occur with a range of other difficulties to do with reading. ‘you need to be brainy to do maths’. a number of issues. 2005). McKenzie. ‘Asian kids are good at maths’ or you ‘won’t need maths if you are going to be a professional footballer. 2002. 1997). Munn. We should not be looking only at cognitive processing difficulties but also considering emotional and environmental/situational factors (Walkerdine. Bull & Gray. or inability to develop from initial iconic numerosity to understanding a symbolic and language based number system (Gifford. 2004). Equally we need to be wary of unhelpful myths and generalisations such as ‘girls can’t do maths’. Henry & MacLean. without complex difficulties. language. the number for the set is independent of other qualities such as the size of the objects and that the number of the set is the same no matter which order you count individual items (Gelman & Galistel. there are a range of problems. 2003. 1997). understanding of numbers and computation skills. She also noted another finding. 1997) or working memory problems (Adams & Hitch. 1978). and interpretations of test scores will generally need to take notice of contextual factors. 1998). children at Key Stage 1 (5 to 7 years old) who are following the National Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . attention and memory. for example. specific conditions such as Down’s syndrome (Bird & Buckley. Within this context. For example. such as those with global cognitive deficits and complex learning difficulties.. there may be a failure to develop even a perceptual understanding of number (Dehearne. common across a range of studies and cultures. and children of a range of ages. spatial awareness.. rock star or mother’ that may be affecting assumptions about children’ learning (Walkerdine. 1998). Table 1 compares the content of some UK standardised tests commonly used by educational psychologists to look at mathematical understanding. We also need to be aware of groups that are known to have specific difficulties learning maths skills. When using these assessment tools practitioners need to be aware of. In a very small number of children. mechanic. 1998. Munn.Susie Mackenzie numbers. Some children have good ‘situated mathematics’ for dealing with number in the real world. For other children. 1998. 1997.
x and ) and application of number and computation in word problems Educational psychologists assessment of children’s arithmetic skills 123 . Later items require child to apply knowledge about computation and number system requiring holding interim results in WM. double. all other items rely on understanding of a verbal question and on holding information in WM. x and ). more than. Basic number (zero to 2 digits. 2004) Age range 6:0–16:11 Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children WISC IV Content Sub test Comment Standardised post implementation of the NNS. 1996) Content 2:6–7:11 Age range Comment Standardised prior to implementation of the NNS. First 5 items have visual cues. powers. increasing to more complex rules such as divide by 2 then take away 1. matching and basic number concepts. more than. Mathematical language used in questioning even for very first items. fractions. Standardised prior to implementation of the NNS. . Sub test Early number concepts Basic concepts. less than. . (Wechsler. Smith & McCulloch. simple computation ( . Number attainment Recognition of numbers. size. Standardised prior to implementation of the NNS. 5:0–17:11 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 5:0–17:11 UK Quantitative reasoning Pattern. Vertical layout of computation and symbols used for division such as 3)96 not compatible with NNS. No word problems or conceptual content at early levels.British Ability Scales BAS II (Elliott. Early items all visual rather than needing understanding of mathematical language. (Continued) Arithmetic Test Basic counting. some application of number such as discounted prices and fuel consumption. decimal notation. percentages. tens and units) and counting. symbolic computation ( .
clocks and calendars. fractions. but every test item has visual information that reduces load on WM. percentages. Response booklet tells examiner what skills are being tested in each item and includes a grid for noting qualitative observations. Standardised post implementation of the NNS. No word problems. knowledge of the number system. square roots and higher powers.124 UK Susie Mackenzie Wechsler Individual Achievement Test WIAT II Content 4:0–16:11 Age range Comment (Wechsler. geometry 4:0–16:11 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Table 1: (Continued ) Cognitive batteries used by educational psychologists in the assessment of arithmetic skills . size. . to geometry. Number Operations Recognition and writing of number symbols. Horizontal layout of computations and notation compatible with NNS. 2005) Sub test Mathematical Reasoning Ranges from basic counting. x and ). Response booklet tells examiner what skills are being tested in each item and includes a grid for noting qualitative observations. Complex mathematical language is used in questioning. more than. and computation ( . pattern. counting. shape. fractions and probability theory Standardised post implementation of the NNS. money.
g. and do not lead to specific advice for teachers about appropriate interventions. Though response times may be of interest. and would not be advisable for any child experiencing ‘maths anxiety’. with information about response times as well as numbers of correct and incorrect answers. limited language understanding. At present we do not have a specific standardised test designed to highlight strengths and weaknesses of underlying skills when a child fails to make progress with maths. as they have only been introduced to calculation with a horizontal format (e. the demands made on working memory or heightened anxiety due to performing in a test situation with an unfamiliar adult. or to test ability to manage computation with visual or concrete support (number lines.g. Similarly some test forms will use the ‘old fashioned’) rather than the symbol for division. The focus when using these tools needs to be not only on the actual scores and what an individual got ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. One additional assessment tool on the market is the Dyscalculia Screener (Butterworth.Educational psychologists assessment of children’s arithmetic skills Numeracy Strategy will not be familiar with the ‘vertical format’ used on the BAS II number skills attainment test. misconception or mis-applied strategy. 2003). 2001). Teachers will be familiar with test materials for assessment relating to the National Curriculum such as Standard Attainment Tests (SATs) for each Key Stage of Education. Profiles produced for individuals on the screener would not necessarily provide clues as to the nature of child’s difficulties. Children may fail some test items due to any one of many problems: lack of knowledge of the number system or maths concepts. 2006). It is standardised for children aged 6 to 14 years. but this would not identify gaps in basic knowledge. Large steps between test items make it hard to determine actual competence or specific gaps or misconceptions and the content of the tests tends to have a very narrow focus on symbolic computation and not to include application of number (Wiliam. The Working Memory Test Battery (Gathercole & Pickering. structured apparatus etc). and as its name suggests. 3 2 5 and 4 6 24). the computer tasks have little ecological validity (how the child uses number skills in everyday life). what strategies the child used to attempt to answer test items and careful scrutiny of ‘wrong’ answers to get a feel for an underlying gap in knowledge. The screener is a mixture of tests based on assumptions about underlying processes such as subitising. Ashcroft & Faust (1994) took groups of young adults who had experienced failure with maths at school and 125 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . If assessing a child that has been experiencing failure with maths learning for some time evidence relating to maths anxiety is worth noting and bearing in mind when interpreting test results. Standardisation of the BNS is from 7 to 12 years but there are not enough test items to allow discrimination at the bottom end of the scale to get a clear picture of specific gaps in understanding for many primary age children with serious weaknesses in maths. but also on how the child approached the task. or to give us detailed information that could be used for the design of an individual intervention programme. visual memory. before and after an intervention). or gaps in their understanding. working memory or what strategies are being used in computation. and straight forward knowledge about the number system and computation. The Dyscalulia Screener does not test language understanding. 2001) could be used to explore components of working memory that might be affecting performance of computation. problems with the language of maths or inappropriate procedures used in calculations. NFER tests and such tests as the Basic Number Screening Test (Gillham. it is supposed to identify children ‘at risk’ by providing information to teachers about skill levels on a set of specific tasks presented on computer. The Basic Number Screening Test (BNS) has the advantage of being easy to administer and ‘child friendly’ and has two parallel forms allowing for test/re-test comparison (e.
misapplying procedures or gaps in knowledge. This approach can be applied to understanding of maths constructs. but in addition they provide ‘indicators’ for levels P1 to P8 leading up to NC level 1. PIVATS cover NC levels 1 to 5.e. tell us nothing of how the child can use number skills in real life and do not necessarily provide clues for designing an appropriate intervention.’ ‘Application of Number’ and ‘Shape. Standardised tests provide scores that teachers or parents find useful as a guide to the extent of the problem. mediation of learning. Informal. Performance in test conditions was markedly worse than that in informal conditions. In terms of maths skills it might be statements such as ‘can add two single digits’ or ‘knows number bonds to 10’. When an educational psychologist is asked to look at progress of an individual or small number of children falling significantly behind peers National Curriculum (NC) levels routinely used by schools to monitor progress are not detailed enough. personalisation of learning and for monitoring learning over a term or year. Test performance may give some indication as to whether or not there is cause for concern or a need for further investigation or intervention. need for visual aids or writing down workings. The WIAT (see Table 1) does provide a useful guide in the record booklet for recording some observations. Keeping detailed notes relating to the child’s performance while administering a standardised test will be helpful when formulating hypotheses about the nature of their difficulties: such as strategies being used. However. scores on these tests on their own do little in terms of furthering understanding of the nature of the difficulties of an individual child. time taken to retrieve information. Space and Measures’ with detailed descriptive statements about what the child can do. or the child may not have reached NC level 1 (i. For example P5 level for Number has five ‘indicators’ if the child has achieved one of these indicators then they could be said to be at NC level P5i. These detailed descriptors can be particularly useful when holding a conversation with a teacher regarding targets for an Individual Education Plan (IEP). without reference to what other children can or can’t do. qualitative and interactive assessment Educational psychologists can adopt approaches known as ‘dynamic assessment’ to look at the skills the child brings to learning situations in general (Elliott. ability to carry out particular mental maths tasks or use maths in real life. PIVATS categorise maths learning in three components: ‘Number.. As with test scores such statements may be useful descriptors. these may be more helpful in making sure an assessment can test a range of hypotheses or proEducational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . when they achieve another of the indicators they are at level P5ii and so on. Performance on tests where participants knew their performance was being monitored did not reflect their actual ability to perform computations in less stressful conditions or in everyday life. Given the lack of diagnostic psychometric tools discussed earlier. In addition each level (P1 to P8) is broken down into five particular skills. Resing. 1993.Susie Mackenzie gave them computations to do in ‘test’ and informal conditions. or indications that there is a problem. or confirmation by an independent ‘expert’ of their assertion that this child has significant difficulties (Freeman & Miller. 2001). what skills are fluent and which require attentional resources. or what is expected at a given age. but do little to answer ‘why’ questions or allow for 126 testing of a hypothesis about the nature of the problem. Curriculum-based assessment At its most basic a ‘curriculum based assessment’ is a descriptive assessment giving a clear picture of what the child can do. 2002). Elliott. ability to learn from demonstration of a rule. the child does not have the skills expected of a five year old). 2003. In these cases we can suggest use of ‘Performance Indicators for Value Added Target Setting or PIVATS (Lancashire. 2006) such as adaptive thinking skills.
1994). motivation and attitudes to learning about maths. particular skills to check in detail can be related to the age and general developmental level of the child and what the class teacher or parent has already told you. counting and estimating. fingers etc. As ‘prompts’ for questions and concepts to use to identify specific maths learning problems Wright et al. 1993. with hints as to what to recommend if a child cannot complete a particular task. a small clock. Numicon plates. include a range of beads for sorting.Educational psychologists assessment of children’s arithmetic skills vide evidence for recommending a particular intervention. favourite activities etc. Results of assessments: advice and intervention If the purpose of an assessment were to identify what the nature of the problem is. strategies. and their experiences as a ‘maths learner’ to check beliefs about maths. A copy of the assessment guide is included as an appendix. or how the child approaches activities relating to maths and arithmetic. numbers. a 100 square and white board and marker. practical ways.) ● How sound is their long-term memory for the number system/number bonds/ multiplication facts/place value? ● What skills are fluent (retrieving number facts from long term memory) and which require conscious effort (and working memory resources)? ● What strategies is the child using for computation ( . In an informal assessment of maths skills the educational psychologist can engage the child in maths activities and games in a relaxed way (minimising test anxiety. used alongside this guide. This might include: ● Does this child count with one to one correspondence? ● Does this child understand specific mathematical language? Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 ● Is this child operating at an iconic or sym- bolic level of understanding of number? (Can the child count or compute using symbols or do they need objects. motivation and attitudes to learning about numbers asking not only obvious questions such as ‘do you like learning about numbers? And ‘do you feel confident in maths lessons’. The focus is on key skills and both asking questions of the child and asking the child to set challenges for you. place value (PV) arrow cards. . taking into account the age of the child. large dice. but it will take considerably more time and by its nature it is not standardised and could be seen by some as biased or subjective (Elliott. recall of number facts and ability to apply knowledge in real. questioning and mediated learning to look for zones of proximal development and to gather information relating to the child’s understanding of quantity. Most EPs would include in an assessment questions about likes and dislikes. playing cards. The assessment can become a conversation: asking the child to do a range of maths related activities. language of maths. 2005). counting fluency. We can use observation. Dowker. expected targets for their age and information from school about what the child can and can’t do. Education Leeds School Support Service has devised their own assessment sheets based on principles set out by Denvir & Bibby (2001).. Educational psychologists may also be asked for their advice if a whole class appears not to be making progress or when tracking for the school 127 . With children in the last year of Primary School and at Secondary level I am interested in not only number but also application of knowledge especially relating to clocks and money (hence the small clock and set of coins in my kit). real coins (£1 to 1p). Ashcraft & Faust. It is very flexible. and these can be easily applied to an assessment of affect. and )? Items I have in my maths assessment kit. but also exception questions such as ‘which bits of numeracy lessons do you like best?’ or ‘which bits do you find easy?’ or ‘how does Mrs X help you?’. (2000) provide a very useful assessment technique (p39–62) and Denvir & Bibby (2001) have produced a very clear hierarchy of skills in their ‘Diagnostic Interviews in Number Sense’. then one of the results would be to give advice tailored to help the individual.
Campbell. There are now intensive structured programmes available such as the Mathematics Recovery Programme (Wright et al. and encourage teachers to implement specific teaching to address gaps in understanding (Dowker. 2000). 2005. the Numeracy Recovery Programme (Dowker. Douglas 128 & Smith. 2004 see also Dowker this issue) and approaches that make use of visual support for maths (Wing and Tacon. Ellemor-Collins and Wright. Sometimes a child struggling with maths may be expected to practice skills they find difficult. 2005). These activities provide practice for a range of concepts. Balshaw & Polat. If assessment of the difficulties of an individual or group identifies a specific problem. For example. Dowker. and good quality training is essential for TAs (Farrell. Brighton & Hove.Susie Mackenzie shows that ‘value added’ for maths is not as good as that for literacy or science. Topping. 1990). Boaler & Wiliam. Older pupils will benefit from developing strategy flexibility or improving knowledge of the sequential structure of numbers (see Verschaffel et al. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . 2006). if it is a problem with working memory then methods can be introduced to reduce memory load (such as use of visual and concrete aids). Sure Start and other community initiatives provide another potential ‘intervention’ through pre-school community based schemes. 1999) which was designed to raise maths understanding in young children through games and other ‘fun’ activities. card. and can build confidence for parents as well as children (Warren & Westmoreland. 2005. boredom and lack of motivation (Boaler & Wiliam. Schools might also want to consider peer tutoring and group collaboration.. 1999. if it is a problem of misapplication of a set of strategies then this can be addressed through specific teaching and explanation. in which case the best ‘intervention’ might be to provide specific training for TAs regarding the nature of mathematical development: key concepts. dice and board games. Workshops can be run for families with ideas for games and activities to do at home: everyday activities from the mundane such as setting the table for a meal. re-thinking setting arrangements and other ‘in house’ initiatives (Topping & Bamford. 1999). 1998. Teaching assistants (TAs) are increasingly likely to be the main providers of support for individual children who need individual learning plans. processing required and so on.. but this should be avoided as it could be counter-productive. 2001). 2003. 2001. counting and computation skills in fun and engaging ways. see also Gross in this issue). who we would expect to know more about teaching mathematics. then approaches can be recommended to address that problem. this issue). Structured recovery and catch up programmes for pupils with problems need to be delivered by staff with a good understanding of mathematics. see also Willey et al. leading to frustration. language. Dowker. how skills develop and the nature of the child’s specific problems. 2001. Intervention for older pupils and young adults might also need to address self-perceptions and constructs relating to learning maths (Hembree. Alternatively we might advise the class teacher. A useful place to start for both individual solutions and class or school level interventions would be to discuss with staff their whole approach to maths teaching and suggest they look at publications from the DfES such as ‘Supporting Pupils with gaps in their mathematical understanding’ (DfES. Teaching assistants supporting children struggling with maths may need particular assistance with understanding how to teach number concepts. rather than have specific teaching to address gaps in their understanding. this issue). such as the BigMath programme (Ginsburg. 2005. Balfanz & Greenes. DfES. 2005. to let the TA oversee more capable students while she teaches the child with difficulties or devises an individual programme to be delivered by a TA. Gifford. or particular skills and strategies. counting songs with classics such as ‘five speckled frogs’. 2000. see also Dowker in this issue).
& Faust.). 97–125.D. In G. Cognition and Emotion. (2001). Primary national strategy: Using models and images to support mathematics teaching and learning in Years 1 to 3. London: Heinemann. G. & Wiliam. What is really important is that practitioners doing an assessment of maths difficulties have a good understanding of the complexity of maths learning and what different factors might be contributing to the difficulties of an individual. J. M. Children’s arithmetic difficulties: Contributions from processing speed. Diagnostic interviews in number sense. Denvir. (1997). The psychology of learning and motivation. Suffolk: Cambridge University Press. Dyscalculia screener: Highlighting pupils with specific learning difficulties in maths. especially economic security. (1978). N. (2001). practices and principles in teaching numeracy: What makes a difference? In P. The national numeracy strategy. Journal of Experimental and Children Psychology. Bull. G. ‘We’ve still got to learn!’ Students’ perspectives on ability grouping and mathematics achievement. R. H. 64. & Bibby. so we need to be well informed. The number sense: How the mind creates mathematics. D. to consider different hypotheses about the nature of the problem and to be in a position to recommend welltargeted interventions. & Hitch. Askew. Dehaene. S. Where children have problems learning maths our efforts to make a difference will be depend on the quality of our own knowledge and understanding regarding maths learning in general and maths problems in particular. Educational psychologists will be aware of the five outcomes of education as set out in the Children’s Act (2004): to be happy. Betz.). Bower (Ed.). M. safe. London: Routledge Press. Educational psychologists are in an important position to inform and support those working directly with the child.H. then these approaches are best used with caution and in conjunc- tion with more searching observation and interactive questioning along the lines suggested in this article. Ashcraft. Policy. (1998). 8. Visual Models and Images supported by Signs and Symbols: A ‘Wave 3’ programme designed by Brighton and Hove LEA. W. Standardised tests and curriculum-based assessments have their place in the psychologist’s toolkit.mackenzie@educationleeds. Butterworth. R & Johnston. DfEE (1999). 1–24. 8.Educational psychologists assessment of children’s arithmetic skills Conclusion This article aims to lead practitioners to a more thorough understanding and approach to the assessment of basic arithmetic (ability to compute with numbers). (1994). (2001). 47–89. become economically secure and able to make a positive contribution to society.uk References Adams. London: King’s College. London: Allen Lane. & Buckley. Baddeley. (1974). Buxton.J. L. Address for correspondence Susie Mackenzie. (1981). Prevalence. Psychology and Assessment Service. Number skills of individuals with Down Syndrome – an overview. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 129 . Donlan (Ed.). M. & Hitch. 25. (2001). (2003). Mathematics anxiety and mental arithmetic performance: an exploratory investigation. In P. Issues in mathematics teaching (chapter 8). S. Bird. numeracy (ability to use numbers in real life) and identifying gaps in mathematical understanding and knowledge. Portsmouth: Down Syndrome Educational Trust. distribution and correlates of maths anxiety in college students. Journal of Counselling Psychology.S. DfES (2005).H. Education Leeds Blenheim Centre Crowther Place Leeds LS6 2ST E-mail: susie. However. Brighton & Hove (2006). Windsor: nferNelson. G. 2006).co. T. Gates (Ed. Boaler.E. A. 441–448. Hove: Psychology Press. and helping children to become ‘mathematically literate citizens in society’ (Wiliam.J. B. enjoying learning. if we want to answer ‘why?’ questions. item identification and short-term memory. The development of mathematical skills. Working Memory. Children’s mental arithmetic and working memory. Basic numeracy and maths skills contribute to all these. Do you panic about maths? Coping with maths anxiety. Issues in mathematics teaching. (1997). Gates (Ed.W. Norwich: HMSO. London: Routledge. Chapter 7 in C.
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This time start at * and count on until I say stop. Start at * and count back until I say stop. ● as above ● use flash-cards. ● hesitancy/sequencing across decades beyond 100 when Now start at 20 and count backwards. appropriate ● understanding term ‘count back’ ● can count back when prompted ● hesitancy/sequencing across practise laying out numeral cards practise with number line/own 100 square move finger/pointer whilst counting develop ‘photo’ of 100 square /order use ‘teen’/‘ty’ prompt 100 square jig-saws place missing numbers back in to 100 square Count forwards in 1s from a given number More counting on. e. 5 – 1 ‘next number’ and ‘subtract’ to above ‘number before’ ● uses fingers or requires apparatus ● for adding/subtracting 2 use whisper/shout ● use flash-cards/vocabulary book .132 Questions Observations Recommendations ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Appendix: Education Leeds maths assessment guide Susie Mackenzie Task Count forwards in 1s from zero Count backwards in 1s I’d like you to start at 1 and count as ● Fluency/pace far as you can go (stop when appropriate). relates to ● work practically/real life problems ● build in time to ‘visualise’ ● use own 100sq and link ‘add’ to Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Subtract 1 from a given number/subtract 2 I’m going to say a number and I want you to add 1… 3 1 etc Then adding 2 Tell me what subtract means I’m going to say a number and I want you to subtract 1….g. 14 15 16 _ ● practise with 100 square .Use flash cards/vocab book Add 1 to a given number/add 2 ● understands the key vocabulary ● knows to take-away when asked to subtract ● does this mentally. ● confuses ty/teen ● ‘babbles’/clarity of words This time start at 10 and count backwards. decades ● says given number/unable to just ‘think’ given number and continue counting beyond 100 when appropriate number thinking it and then counting ● point to next number after */number Give next number after/next 2 numbers What number comes next after * Tell me the next 2 numbers after * just before* (or object/picture in a line) ● adult says number sequence. i. forwards → ● Move forwards/backwards along ‘colour line’ ● practise putting finger/pointer on Count backwards in 1s from a given number ● understands the key vocabulary ● can do this when demonstrated ● can point to number before/after Now counting backwards again.e. stops Give number before/ 2 numbers before What number comes just before * Tell me the 2 numbers that come just before * on a 100 square/number line and pupil gives next number e.g.
9 4.g. Read this to me. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 (school and home) pattern/sequence ● Domino activity/ele flips ● needs to be given a number ● Allow processing time prompt ● does not recognise commutativity ● all above apply to higher numbers ● work practically/real life problem ● teach to count all ● ● ● ● ● Knows pairs of numbers which make 20 and relate to higher numbers As above Add 2 numbers under 10/20 counts all counts on from first number counts on from largest number count back only uses known facts to derive Tell me what * add * is/makes/equals Subtract 2 numbers under 10/20 Show card. Read this to me. e. Tell me what * subtract /take away * is/ makes/equals Show card. Give me the answer count on/back count on from largest number use number bonds use doubles Count forwards in 10s to 100 Count on in 10s for me ● practise with Place Value (PV) Arrow Cards ● use ‘ty’ visual prompt ● relate to 100 square Count backwards in 10s from 100 Count backwards in 10s from 100 ● ● ● ● ● understands instruction gets to 90 then stops or confused gets to 20 then reverts to ‘teens’ gets to 10 then stops does not say zero when counting back Educational psychologists assessment of children’s arithmetic skills 133 . etc.g.Task ● understands key vocabulary ● can do when given a real life Questions Observations Recommendations Say the number that is 1 more example/apparatus Tell me the number that is 1 more than * Say the number that is 1 less ● can do this randomly/quick recall ● needs to give answers in a learnt ● Use visual prompts/RAP Tell me the number that is 1 less than * ● ● ● ● work practically/real life problems build in time to ‘visualise’ practise with own 100 square/photo use flash cards/vocabulary book Knows pairs of numbers which make 10 You did really well with the adding up What does this number say? (10) Tell me 2 numbers that add up to 10. Give me the answer. e. 10 – 4.
3 tens equals 30. 2. e. etc. etc.8. etc.g. 96. What is 20 subtract/take away 10.g. Tell me what 10 add 10 is/makes What about 20 add 10.g. ● relate to 100 square ● use ‘ty’ visual prompt ● practise with 100 square and PV cards ● develop visualisation of moving cards ● write out sequences Count forwards in 10 from a given number demonstration/written prompt/ using PV cards/100 sq ● beyond 100 if appropriate This time I want you to count in 10s starting at the number * (e. etc. etc) . What does this number say? (e. 1.g. etc.) counting back to subtracting on/back Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Subtract 10 from a given number Task Let’s start with the number * (e. etc. ) on/back in 10s ● reverts to fingers ● can read/write multiples of 10 ● will say that 40 is 4 tens ● will say that 40 is 40 tens ● 3 digit numbers if appropriate Say how many 10s in 40.g.g.98. 4.6.99) Now subtract/take away 10 (take away 10 take away 10. 52) ● as above ● not relating counting on to add/ ● as above ● use flash cards and relate to counting Add 10 to a given number Let’s start with the number * (e.9) Now add 10 (and 10 and 10.134 Questions ● does not relate this to counting ● ● ● ● Task Observations Recommendations Susie Mackenzie Add/subtract 10 (then 20/30. 27) ● unable to do this ● can do this following Count backwards in 10 from given number This time I want you to count backwards in 10s starting at the number * (e. 40) How many 10s make/are there in 40? use PV/Arrow cards write out sequences develop visualisation of moving cards use flash-cards and relate adding to counting on/subtracting to counting back ● lay out PV cards on a base board if appropriate and count down.
Count in 2s from zero/recognise as even What is this number? (within 10 ) Is it odd or even? How did you know that? of last digit Point out the importance of last digit.. Have fun with car number plates/ large numbers 2 4 6 8 0 even Count in 2s from 1/ recognise as odd If appropriate show numbers beyond 10 Educational psychologists assessment of children’s arithmetic skills 135 . etc. 2 4 6 8 & 1 more ● understands vocabulary ● relates to counting in 2s ● recognises significance 9 ● make a poster (for home and school). What is 20 3 etc (100 40 3.Task ● can read/write 2 digit numbers ● practise with PV cards: Questions Observations Recommendations Place value Say how many tens/units in a 2 digit number Point to the number **/Write the number ** for me (or ***) Show me the tens? Show me the units? (T Us ) How many tens are there?(Hs Ts) Let’s do some more adding. ● use the ‘teen’ visual prompt ● write 10 and ( ) 1 10 etc ● build in time to ‘visualise’ cards ● partition 2/3 digit numbers using PV cards ● use PV cards to make 2/3 digit numbers ● when counting in 2s stops at 10/20 ● use apparatus/count in 2s and colour ● when counting in 5s stops in a 100 square. i. ● can identify tens digit but unable to give the value of the 4 i. Let’s use the cards. says that it is 40 tens/or that it is 4 ● as above with 3 digit numbers ● when asked 20 3 reverts to counting on ● when asked 46 6 reverts to counting back Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 – put the 10 card on the table – say 10 – fit the 1 card on top – say 10 and 1 equals 11 – fit the 2 card on top – say 10 and 2 equals 12. Count in 2s ( say stop if appropriate ) Count in 5s (say stop if appropriate) Keep as visual prompt ● use whisper/shout to count ● can count in 2s/5s but unable to apply this when counting grouped objects/coins in 2s ● as above for counting in 5s ● count grouped objects e. etc. etc (200 70 5 etc) What number is this? (**/***) Which two/three cards do you need? Knows that 46 – 6 40 Count in 2s/5s before 100 Subtraction/take aways .g. What is 46 – 6. Let’s use PV Arrow Cards. etc. Point out the pattern Can partition. What number is it. Add 20 and 3.e. etc. 23 20 3 146 100 40 6.e.) (3 digit if appropriate ) ● reverses the order of the digits ● can identify the tens digit and say that 4 tens are 40. etc.
40. halves. 10. 10. 100. 4. 20. 20. 5. 3. 100 Susie Mackenzie Give halves What’s half of 4. Fold to teach Observations 2 equals. Table compiled by Jane Sellers and Susie Mackenzie Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . etc. 6. 8. 50. ● Observe strategies used ● Listen to explanations as they Recommendations dots/pictures/numbers Give doubles What’s double 2.136 Questions ● unable to give answer to double 2 ● identify which are double dominoes – Task but knows what 2 ● unable to identify a double domino ● use card dominoes. 200 ● Observe pupil using pencil and paper methods on appropriate tasks. work ● Make note of any misconceptions ● Ask pupil to talk about what they are doing.
the authors looked at the ways in which young Brazilian street traders carried out calculations while conducting their businesses. One solution to this problem lies in knowledge exchange activities. and in particular to meet the government’s target that by 2002 threequarters of 11-year-olds should reach level 4 in their mathematics SATs. Jane Andrews. In a classic study by Nunes and her colleagues (Carraher et al. A new approach was required. This paper attempts to redress the balance by describing the nature and characteristics of children’s out-of-school mathematics. 1999) was introduced into English primary schools in 1999. Despite general encouragement within the 2006 Framework to build good home-school links. Wan Ching Yee. found that the traders not only used methods which were very different 137 . and looking at how connections might be made between in-school and out-of-school mathematics. The paper argues that it is important for connections to be made between home and school mathematics. and examples are provided of activities which operate in both the school-to-home and home-to-school directions. Carraher et al. At home. but this is often impaired by teachers’ lack of knowledge about home mathematics and by parents’ lack of knowledge about school mathematics.Linking children’s home and school mathematics Martin Hughes. mathematics is frequently encountered during play and games. 1985). While the 2006 Framework is less prescriptive in its approach. there is little or no recognition that mathematics may be acquired and used outside the classroom. Yet by 2006 it was being accepted that although the Strategy had been widely welcomed by teachers. 2006). Jan Winter & Leida Salway Abstract Current approaches to teaching mathematics in English primary schools pay little attention to the kind of mathematics which children engage in outside of school. Many psychologists and mathematics educators are paying increasing attention to the ways in which mathematics is actually acquired and used in a wide range of real-life contexts. it had not fully achieved its targets. and in authentic household activities such as cooking and shopping. In particular. Its overall aim was to raise standards of attainment in mathematics. or that parents and other family members might play an important role in supporting children’s mathematical learning. Such an approach within the primary mathematics curriculum is surprising. There are also more school-like mathematical activities such as homework and commercially available maths schemes. under the Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 © The British Psychological Society 2007 T supervision of a trained professional teacher. HE NATIONAL Numeracy Strategy (DfEE... both documents appear to regard mathematics as a set of skills and competences which are acquired and assessed within the classroom setting. one which was less prescriptive than what had gone before and which allowed teachers to be more creative and innovative in their practice (DfES. it shares with the original National Numeracy Strategy a number of key assumptions about the teaching and learning of mathematics. The main implications for teachers and educational psychologists are to pay much greater attention to children’s out-of-school mathematics. given that much recent research on mathematics learning is taking a very different perspective. Pamela Greenhough. and to develop further ways of linking home and school mathematics.
a number of studies have shown that diverse groups such as farmers (Abreu. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 138 . We will further argue that this problem can be addressed by ‘knowledge exchange activities’ between home and school.. The impact of the HSKE activities was evaluated using a range of measures. on the basis of gender and attainment. focusing in turn on literacy at key stage 1. designed to communicate knowledge between home and school. the ethnic composition of the sample attempted to match the ethnic diversity to be found in the two cities. a teacherresearcher seconded part-time to the project worked with teachers. The numeracy strand involved children in Years four and five from four contrasting primary schools in Bristol and Cardiff. Findings related to other aspects of this strand will be reported in subsequent papers. they claimed that a key component in children’s mathematical attainment at school lies in the degree of ‘consonance’ or ‘dissonance’ between children’s home and school numeracy practices. and its relation to school mathematics. and one school had a relatively low proportion of such pupils. The home school knowledge exchange project This paper draws on the work of the Home School Knowledge Exchange Project. Within each school. These included standardised assessments of attainment and attitude undertaken by all the children in the cohort (whose performance was then compared with children from similar schools where HSKE activities did not take place). home numeracy practices usually centre on solving a specific local problem. In each city one school had a relatively high proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals. in each school six children were chosen for more intensive study. For example. 1993) typically develop and use methods for mathematical calculation which are different from those conventionally taught in schools. and that different cultural practices may generate and support different ways of doing mathematics. we will argue that the possibility of making meaningful connections between home and school mathematics may be limited by the fact that teachers and parents often know very little about what is going on at home and at school respectively. The overall aim of the project was to develop and implement programmes of home-school knowledge exchange activities and look at their impact on children.. 2001) and fishermen (Nunes et al. but they were also more successful with their own methods than when the same problems were presented as ‘school maths’. A similar picture is starting to emerge from the more limited research on home mathematics.. In addition. The data to be presented in this paper comes from the numeracy strand of the project (see Winter et al.Martin Hughes et al. (2005) argued that the numeracy practices in which children participate at home and at school differ on a number of dimensions. numeracy at key stage 2. 1999). parents and children to develop and implement a range of home-school knowledge exchange activities. In this paper we will look more closely at the nature of home mathematics. nurses (Hoyles et al.. and primary/secondary transfer. from those they had been taught in school. Street et al. The data presented in this paper comes primarily from these ‘target’ children and their families. The project consisted of three main strands. their teachers and their parents. while school numeracy practices are about learning skills or concepts determined by the teacher. In particular. which took place between 2001 and 2005. also argued that there is considerable variation across home numeracy practices. 2007 for more details of this strand). teachers and parents. In addition. Such findings provide support for Lave’s (1988) claim that mathematics – like other cognitive processes – is essentially ‘situated’. 2004. While they were at pains to point out that they are not operating from a ‘deficit’ position. and in-depth interviews were carried out with these children. Winter et al. More recently. Street et al.
and then I have to try and find them a house.000. The game proceeded at a high pace and it was clear that Ryan and his friends were very familiar with it. but then they want one in say Newport. It is essentially a board game. Where detailed interactions are reported below. In the following extract from an interview with Chloe. for example. And if they … like if they find … if they want … one in like say [name] (local area where she lives). and then how much it costs. what’s the total money you want to spend. She describes how in her play she recreates some of the mathematics that adults would need to engage in if they were really selling houses: Interviewer: So when you’re playing mortgages. like where they’re moving and how much they really want to spend. the participants need to add together the numbers shown on two dice. marbles and air hockey’. 139 The nature of home mathematics The children in our project were engaged in a substantial number of activities which involved mathematics in some way. and then I’ll do other stuff. including their fantasy or role-play. For example. authentic household activities. The street was in a quiet housing estate and there was little traffic. and then I’ll pretend to fax the cheques off. The aim was to hit the opposing kerb as near to the edge as possible. Some of the children also played games which they had designed or developed themselves. Many of the games which the children played involved some kind of mathematics. Several of the games involving mathematics had clear cultural roots outside the Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . and some of the games involved a great deal.Linking children’s home and school mathematics As part of the involvement in the project. like how many rooms they want – if they want like a three-bedroomed house I have to try and look in … pretend to look in books for a three-bedroomed house. she talks about how she likes to play at estate agents. Then I write it all down. and they’ll say like 300. Ryan. is extremely popular on the Indian subcontinent and in other countries with a substantial south-Asian population. move their counters the appropriate number of spaces around the board. UK. and school-like activities. and sinking one’s pieces down various holes around the board scores points. and a successful throw here scored 10 points. what does that involve. which has been described as ‘a combination of pool. what do you do there? Chloe: Like I pretend to talk to people and I like say how much money do you want to spend and . this time taken from the middle of the street. they are based on the transcriptions of these videos. This request was made after a long interview in which the kinds of mathematics taking place at home had been explored. This game. Dhanu and his brother were clearly experienced and skilful players. for example. It should be noted that mathematics was often present in the children’s play. each target family was loaned a video camera and asked to record mathematics events which took place in the home. something like that. I’ll go on like the laptop and I’ll look and see what one’s the best quality and they have to choose and something like that. The game – which the children called ‘Kerbs’ – involved taking turns to throw a football from one side of the street to the other. was filmed by his mother playing outside on the street with his younger brother and some friends. These activities fell into three main groups – play and games. with a strong shared understanding of the game which meant that conversation was kept to a minimum. Dhanu and his older brother made a video of themselves playing ‘Carrom’. I’ll pretend to go …. In Monopoly.. They also have to make more strategic financial decisions about whether or not to buy a particular property or to pay a fine to get out of jail. and this counted as 20 points A near hit meant the thrower could get a second throw. and then they have to write me a cheque out. and give and receive change as they buy property and collect rent from other players.
using multiplication or division to amend a recipe. check what was bought against the shopping list. Aaqil’s father was a taxi-driver. or their dinner will be ruined. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Ellie. and switching between different units of measurement. First of all I’m going to stand on the scales and tell you my weight. setting a budget. In contrast. Amongst other things. Many of these authentic household activities involve money. Then I’m going to take away the first weight I tell you from the second weight. If a mistake is made. Programming the video can involve calculating how long a programme will last. She placed the bathroom scales in front of the camera but the cat did not want to stay on the scales by itself. and working out the most cost effective means of travel. Ellie needed to weigh her cat. then I’m going to stand on the scales with the cat in my arms and take that weight and tell you. and the weight left will be my cat’s weight.5 kg School maths at home In the two kinds of activities which we have described above. Both these kinds of activities share certain characteristics – they are based around purposes and intentions which are independent of the mathematics involved. and during this time their cat would be looked after by neighbours. Ellie had to work out how much cat food to leave them.. working out whether there is enough blank tape on the video. Cooking. From that I’ll be able to work out how much cat food my cat’s going to need. and we will refer to them here as ‘school maths at home’. and its main purpose is to develop new mathematical knowledge and skills or to practice and rehearse existing knowledge and skills. it should be noted that these activities are not fundamentally about mathematics or learning mathematics. Authentic household activities Many everyday activities which take place in and around the home involve mathematics. In this respect. and grappling with the 24-hour clock. these activities closely resemble mathematics activities undertaken in school. Ellie told the camera how she was going to solve the problem: I’m going to weigh my cat. for example. the mathematics is embedded in play and games or authentic household activities. and make sure her mother received the correct change.Martin Hughes et al. Indeed. Other children encountered money through assisting in their parents’ work. and Olivia frequently helped her at the centre. despite the important role which mathematics plays in their successful completion. At the same time. then someone’s favourite TV programme will not be recorded. We termed them ‘authentic’ (cf Brown et al. The cat food was in the form of granules and the daily amount depended on the weight of the cat. 140 One girl in the study. for example. and Aaqil would collect spare change from his father which he would then give to charity. this means that it is important for all those involved that the mathematics is carried out correctly. 1989) because the purposes underlying the activities are an integral part of household life. calculating the time needed for different parts of the process. So. they are not primarily about learning mathematics at all. made a video describing how she used mathematics to solve an authentic household problem. In the next scene Ellie is holding up a piece of card on which she has written: My weight cat 53kg / My weight 461 2kg 6. can involve weighing quantities. accompanied her mother on shopping trips as her mother’s English was relatively modest. Most of the children in our research were regularly engaged in these kind of household activities. running the coffee-bar and taking responsibility for the takings. Nadia. Ellie’s family were going away on holiday for two weeks. Here the activity is essentially focused on learning mathematics. Planning a journey or holiday can involve consulting bus or train timetables. the third category of home mathematics activity is rather different. In terms of the distinction made by Street et al . Olivia’s mother was the part-time manager of a local centre for learning disabled people. Nadia’s role was to read out the prices on the goods in the shops.
Molly. who’s going first? Stephen? (Stephen has picked up the darts and starts to throw) Mother: OK then (Stephen throws 15. and had to carry out homework given by their tutor. School maths took various forms at home. Even if teachers are convinced of the value of home mathematics and the desirability of making links with it. Nadia’s family use a system of finger counting in which the three sections on each finger are counted rather than just a single finger. some of the children attended maths classes given by private tutors. how much did he get? (Molly looks at the board. for example. three threes? Molly: Nine Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Yes. Mother: Stephen. and that those activities which are going on are of little value for school learning – or indeed. Like many families of South Asian origin. Few teachers are trained in techniques for eliciting information from parents or other family members. for whatever reason. However their mother’s interventions gave the game a strong ‘schoolmaths’ feel. Perhaps the most common was homework which had actually been set by the child’s teacher. In addition. we would argue that children’s potential to learn mathematics will be substantially limited unless this is done. First. Yet there seem to be a number of reasons why such links are not made as frequently as they might be. In addition. One is fifteen Molly: Fifteen Mother: and treble three. says nothing) Mother: Right we’ll count them up. Teachers frequently assume that there are few mathematical activities taking place at home. in practice the boundaries between them can become blurred. the video made by Nadia’s family shows her working through a sheet of maths problems drawn up by her older sister. then treble 3. The following conversation took place while Molly was playing a game of darts with her younger brother Stephen. they may not necessarily know how to go about it.Linking children’s home and school mathematics (2005) they are activities belonging to the ‘school domain’ but taking place on the ‘home site’. Other children were set maths problems or calculations by their parents or siblings. and this would involve one child – in the role of teacher – setting some maths problems for the other one – in the role of pupil. While the distinctions between these different types of home maths activities are easy to make in theory. Mother: Molly: Difficulties in linking home and school mathematics As we have seen. This system allows counting up to 30 on the two hands compared with up to 10 using the Western 141 . was growing up in a family of Bengali origin who still maintained strong links with their extended family in Bangladesh. Right put Stephen’s score down as twenty-four then The conversation continues in this vein throughout the game. there is a general lack of awareness about the existence and nature of home mathematics. Nadia. For example. and the children worked through these at home. some of the parents had bought commercially available maths schemes or software packages. children are engaged in a range of different activities at home which involve mathematics in some way. Sometimes these were set in the context of a game in which the children would play ‘schools’. It is clearly important that ways should be found of linking this home mathematics to the mathematics taking place in school – indeed. nine plus fifteen (pauses while she works it out) Twenty-four Mother: Yes. and attempting to do so with a class of 30 or more children from contrasting backgrounds may seem a daunting task. It is also possible that parents and children may not wish to disclose information about family life. treble three. then hits the board outside the ring) Mother: Right. what’s three threes? Molly: Six Mother: No. may actually serve to undermine it.
I try and show her my way and she says ‘oh you don’t know what you’re doing’ (laughs) I can read it out to him but he always says I’m wrong because I’m not doing it properly .’ A further example comes from Ryan’s mother. We do it a different way. who grew up in Scotland and was taught to use methods which were different from those which Ryan was currently being taught.I think well you need to just take it back to your teacher and say you can’t do it. . they may go ahead and offer help anyway. At one point the following interchange takes place: Mother: To take em … to be able to take five away frae three you have to put one unit off the four and put it onto the three. First. . but he just doesn’t seem to take it in’. This has been particularly evident in the last few years in English primary schools. On the video which Ryan’s mother made for the project there is a long section in which Ryan is attempting a homework sheet of subtraction calculations. and that this may severely limit the opportunities for making links between the mathematics taking place in the two contexts. . Not in my school we don’t. As Lucy’s mother pointed out: What confuses me is that they do their calculations slightly different to how we were taught to do them . The activities developed and implemented on the Home School Knowledge Exchange Project fell into two main groups. which are designed to increase the exchange of knowledge about mathematics between home and school. . then they may feel inhibited from providing help when this is needed. If parents feel that there is a difference between their approach to mathematics and those used by the school. even if the outcome is unsatisfactory.Martin Hughes et al. 1999. Many parents were clearly feeling ‘deskilled’ by the changes in mathematics teaching and their lack of knowledge of current methods being used at school. there were activities which we called Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 While another mother who had been educated in India commented that ‘I wish I went to school here but I didn’t . so parents and other family members often know very little – or think they know very little – about what is happening in school. Some parents may have noticed that work which their children do in school or bring home as homework employs different terminologies and procedures from ones they may be familiar with. Nadia was good at mathematics and was strongly supported in this by her family. with the introduction of the National Numeracy and Literacy Strategies. reports that children often do not report on or value their home mathematics practices. However. . ‘oh’ she says. . ‘I’ve showed him and I’ve showed him and I’ve showed him. . possibly on the grounds that this might cause confusion for their children. Just as teachers may not know very much about home mathematics. . In this case. do you not? Ryan: No Mother: Well why … You have to Ryan: You don’t. Much of this section shows Ryan’s mother attempting to help him and Ryan resisting her help. In this section we describe what we have termed home-school knowledge exchange activities. so . .and we end up at loggerheads and I just think. . and did not want her teacher to know about it. Exchanging knowledge between home and school In the previous section we argued that both teachers and parents may lack sufficient knowledge about the mathematics taking place at home and school respectively. the barrier between home and school was being erected by the child herself (Incidentally. which she discusses in terms of valorisation). Abreu. system. as a result of their own experiences at school and afterwards. Other parents have simply have a vague awareness that ‘things are different now’. she did not use her finger counting method at school. Alternatively. This feeling was often compounded with their lack of confidence in their own mathematical ability. Ryan’s mother described how her attempts to help him often ended in conflict and lack of communication: 142 .
but that it usually looks rather different from school mathematics. this is how she’s got to do it . We have attempted to redress this imbalance by providing an account of some of the main features of home mathematics. . where the children sought out and tabulated information about their home lives. where the primary aim was to inform parents and/or other family members about the school mathematics curriculum and the teaching methods being used. And it made him think about what we actually do in the house that involves numbers. This mother added that this had been ‘probably the best hour I’ve spent at the school. The second main type of knowledge exchange activity were those we termed hometo-school. and then he took the picture’. The ‘everyday maths’ activities fell mostly into the categories of ‘play and games’ and ‘authentic household activities’ described above. (2007). and videos made about school maths lessons which were made available for parents to see. together with pieces of writing produced by the children which explained what mathematics was involved in the activity. Like the clock and telling the time. I mean. Here the overall aim was to bring knowledge about the children’s out-of-school lives into the classroom so that connections could be made with the children’s school mathematics. Because that’s another thing. we got all these sheets and we came home and once I had it in my head. actually’. and money. For example. outside-of-school. teachers and parents can be found in Winter et al. although there were some more idiosyncratic ones such as working out how long their grandparents had been married! While some children did this activity on their own. bringing maths games from home into school and playing them during lessons. In one particularly successful activity all the children were supplied with disposable cameras and asked to take photographs of ‘everyday maths’ events taking place Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Further details of the knowledge exchange activities and their impact on children. and going to the shops. which was the main problem. The children returned the cameras to the school where the photographs were developed and put on displays. Her form teacher. others involved their parents or other family members. and developing home maths trails. . whether I did it my way or her way. based on data recently collected with the help of children and their families. . At one school parents were invited into the classroom in small groups to be shown the procedures being used by the teachers. In the following quote Adam’s mother talks about how they worked on the activity together: He enjoyed doing it. . and change. Discussion and implications In this paper we have argued that current approaches to teaching mathematics in English primary schools do not pay adequate attention to the kinds of mathematics in which children are engaging outside of school. home-school folders which travelled backwards and forwards between home and school. communication. Our account makes clear that mathematics can be found in a wide range of home activities. allowing space for both teachers and parents to make comments. how they break it all down. Examples of such school-to-home activities included regular newsletters. And it helped so much. if something was 8 euros how much that was in English money . One mother commented as follows: They’re obviously teaching maths a lot different to the way I learnt maths. they had an afternoon where some of the mums went in and they actually taught us for an hour how they teach children. the answer came out the same. him and (his sister) were changing their English money into euros so that was more maths trying to work that out. but it was nice to know how they’re being taught. And also trying to work out when we were on holiday. such as the average age of the family members. the kind 143 .Linking children’s home and school mathematics school-to-home. which provided information about the children’s out-of-school interests and aptitudes. when he went to the shops I’d say ‘we can take a picture of this’ and we laid it all out and the change and the money. These activities included pupil profile sheets.
or ensuring that the shopkeeper gives you the right change. for further development of these ideas). One factor which seems to be working against such connections being made is the lack of knowledge by teachers and parents of what is happening at home and school respectively. For example. which were then openly discussed and compared within the classroom. these purposes are usually not primarily about learning mathematics. Alternatively. they might treat the contexts in which children use mathematics as sites for the application of the more abstract (or disembedded) knowledge acquired in school (see Hughes et al. While it is important that parents are made aware of the methods being taught at their children’s schools. and they can readily be modified to suit local circumstances. The present paper suggests that traditional school-based assessment procedures are likely to engage with only one part of children’s mathematical experiences. tasks and materials used to assess children. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . then many of the problems we noted above might be eased. There are also potential roles for parents as mediators or ‘brokers’ (see Wenger. but are about winning the game. teachers might treat children’s outof-school mathematical knowledge as a resource which they could draw on in the classroom to help with the introduction of a new concept or procedure. The exact nature of the activities is less 144 important. In this paper we have described a number of knowledge exchange activities which have been successfully used in schools on the Home School Knowledge Exchange Project. What is more important than the specific activities. We have also argued in this paper that it is important that children are able to make meaningful connections between the two kinds of mathematics they encounter. Indeed. of mathematics involved in play and games and authentic household activities is characterised by being heavily embedded (to use Donaldson’s. on the grounds that parents are exceptionally well placed for playing this role. or cooking dinner.Martin Hughes et al. there are many ways to accomplish the same purpose. 1998) between school mathematics and children’s individual out-of-school understandings. At the same time. however. Indeed. If this could be successfully communicated to parents. and the conflict and frustration – or withdrawal of support – this may lead to. is the recognition that such activities are desirable and can enhance children’s mathematics learning. a home-to-school activity in which children brought in examples of different methods used by different family members. 1978 term) in the immediate intentions and purposes of everyday life. and that some may be more appropriate for some kinds of problems than others. The observations reported here are also relevant for all those – including teachers and educational psychologists – who need to make assessments of children’s ongoing mathematical progress. it is also important that they come to recognise that there is no single correct method. could well help the children to appreciate that. These connections might take different forms. In this respect they show a marked contrast to the mathematics activities found in school (and the schoollike activities which we also found at home). and to make these closer to the kinds of meaningful and authentic mathematical activities in which they engage at home. If we want to obtain a fuller picture of children’s competence in mathematics then it might be valuable to widen the range of contexts. one of the strengths of the 2006 Framework is that it emphasises that children should leave primary school having a range of methods – both written and mental – for carrying out calculations. in mathematics. 2000. This in turn further emphasises and reinforces the need to draw on the knowledge of those who know the children in environments other than school – primarily but not exclusively parents. where the primary purpose of the activities is the learning of mathematics.. One issue which arose in the paper was that of different calculation methods being used by parents and children.
Jan Winter and Wan Ching Yee. J. Carraher. 3. A. Marilyn Osborn. (2005). J. Anthony Feiler. T. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 145 . P. C. E. 6. (1978). Vicki Stinchcombe. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 32(1). T. We are very grateful to the children. (1993). & Yee. David Johnson.uk References Abreu.home-school-learning. Educational Researcher. Collins. Yee. teachers or educational psychologists – to be aware of and take account of the mathematics which children are engaged in outside of school. (1985).org. 4–27. The activities described above suggest some ways in which this might be done. (1989). 1078) as part of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP). Numeracy and beyond. Saljo & P. 32–42. In J.S.D. British Journal of Developmental Psychology. Cognition in practice: Mind. Wenger. The HSKE project team consisted of: Martin Hughes (project director). R. Hughes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. B. Street mathematics and school mathematics. meaning and identity. The National Numeracy Strategy: Framework for teaching mathematics from Reception to Year 6 London: DfEE. Primary framework for literacy and mathematics London: DfES..W. M. D.. Andrew Pollard (who is also director of TLRP). Winter. Pamela Greenhough.. Acknowledgements This paper draws on the work of the Home School Knowledge Exchange Project (HSKE). M. W. one of the main implications of this work is the need for all those concerned with children’s mathematics learning in school – whether they be policy-makers. Noss. C. & Carraher. More information about the HSKE project and TLRP can be found at http://www. L. 59–75. BS8 1 JA E-mail: martin. Elizabeth McNess. J.. 18(1). Hughes.tlrp. Hoyles. Salway. C. Brown.. Greenhough.ac. mathematics and culture in everyday life. R. 35 Berkeley Square. J. Department for Education and Skills (2006).. & Duguid. Jane Andrews. 21–29. Winter. Carraher. S. Oxford: Pergamon. Learning mathematics in and outside school: Two views on situated learning. & Tomlin. D. (2004). Situated cognition and the culture of learning.). (in press). J.. Linking home and school mathematics: The Home School Knowledge Exchange Project. Bliss. A. (1999).hughes@bristol. M. & Hughes. Donaldson. London: Routledge. (1988). G. & Pozzi. L. W. Baker. M.uk and http://www... P. parents and teachers who participated in the project and to the LEAs of Cardiff and Bristol for their support. Desforges. Communities of practice: Learning. D. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Linking children’s home and school mathematics To conclude. Schliemann. Buckingham: Open University Press. Department for Education & Employment (1999). C. Research In Mathematics Education. Andrews. Lave. A. Mathematics in the streets and in schools. Proportional reasoning in nursing practice. & Schliemann. org. Navigating numeracies: Home/school numeracy practices Dordrecht: Springer. University of Bristol. (1998). Salway. which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (reference number L139 25 Address for correspondence Graduate School of Education. Nunes. but they represent only the start of what needs to be a major shift in perspective about the nature of mathematics learning and how it can be enhanced. Leida Salway. 17–31. A. N. Bristol.. Street. (2000).. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (2001). Light (Eds. Mary Scanlan. Learning Sites: Social and Technological Resources for Learning. Improving primary mathematics: Linking home and school. and to look for ways of making meaningful links between in-school and out-ofschool mathematics.. Children’s minds London: Fontana. & Mitchell.
Gervasoni & Sullivan. where other papers consider research and interventions addressing children’s difficulties with mathematics or arithmetic (see for example Dowker. Implications for the term ‘dyscalculia’ are discussed. Holliday & Martland. the NNS has had the explicit aim of narrowing the gap between higher and lower attaining children. Data is presented to show that these pupils have not benefited from the NNS as much as other pupils. the opportunity for teachers to pinpoint appropriate learning objectives from a clearly defined progression. to develop from the start effective teaching strategies that work for all rather than distinct routes based on diagnostic categories. This paper sets out to do that. The potential benefits for children who find mathematics difficult have included the opportunity for them to learn from others rather than being thrown back on their own sometimes limited resources. the use of visual models to develop mental imagery. explicit teaching of key mathematical vocabEducational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 © The British Psychological Society 2007 . in the relatively new field of mathematical difficulties.Supporting children with gaps in their mathematical understanding: The impact of the National Numeracy Strategy (NNS) on children who find mathematics difficult Jean Gross Abstract This paper outlines and evaluates developments within the NNS that have addressed the needs of lower attaining pupils. and teachers have been encouraged to develop whole-class interactive teaching followed by carefully differentiated group work as an alternative to the lonely journey through graded textbooks that formed children’s main mathematical experience before the introduction of the NNS. identified in international studies as a particular feature of the English system (Reynolds & Farrell. development and evaluation of additional teaching materials described as Wave 3 intervention. the focus on oral work. 146 I From its inception in 1999. Willey. It then considers responses by the NNS to concerns about children with significant difficulties in mathematics and the rationale. Evaluation of impact has so far been qualitative. It is concluded that there is an opportunity. Quantitative information is still awaited and will include statistics of on the number of pupils continuing to attain below National Curriculum Level 3 at the end of Key Stage 2 (at the age of 11 years). it is important also to outline and evaluate developments that have taken place within the English educational system. the paper takes a pragmatic stance in relation to the term ‘dyscalculia’ and suggests how this stance might inform educational psychology practice. this issue). 1996). The rationale and form of the additional Wave 3 intervention materials are then described. N THE context of this special journal issue. Finally. Resources have deliberately been targeted according to levels of disadvantage. It starts with the rationale of the National Numeracy Strategy (NNS) and provides information about the impact of the strategy on lower attaining pupils. involving comments made by teachers and the children themselves.
2003). TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) found that the progress made in mathematics since 1995 was larger in England than in any other country and that these improvements applied equally across the range of attainment. And while 68 per cent of those below Level 3 in English are boys. as stated above. However. 2004. 2002. The gap between aspiration and reality may help to explain a number of findings that raise concerns about the impact of the NNS on lower attainers. The Gatsby numeracy project (Muijs. For example. did not make greater progress than control children who were not supported. Evidence from national datasets shows that. rather than promote discussion and cognitive engagement Increased use of setting as a response to difficulty in coping with diversity Lower attaining groups generally work with teaching assitants rather than the teacher Teachers and TAs have little liaison time and TAs may lack subject knowledge. Anderson. children experiencing Interpretation in schools Questioning used to funnel pupils’ responses towards a required answer.9 per cent of the 2005 Year 6 cohort were below Level 3 in mathematics only. 2000) have noted that public questioning during whole-class teaching can lead to raised anxiety levels for children who find mathematics difficult. findings from the Leverhulme numeracy research programme (Brown & Millett. Blatchford et al. It does suggest some degree of specificity in mathematical difficulties: 5. 2004). In mathematics as in English. the reduction in numbers achieving very low levels (below National Curriculum Level 3) has been much less dramatic (Table 2). and the emphasis on metacognition – children identifying and explaining the strategies they use to solve problems. including the most and least able. 2003.9 per cent in both subjects. McSherry & Ollerton. The profile of children attaining below Level 3 in mathematics is of interest. summarised in Table 1. Their role is often to support children in completing inadequately differentiated tasks To what extent have NNS goals been achieved? Overt goals. The 2003 Stated goals of NNS Whole class interactive strategies rather than didactic teaching Differentiation by ability grouping within a class Teachers work with all ability groups Well-trained Teaching Assistants (TAs) work with groups on appropriately differentiated tasks under the direction of the teacher and with frequent opportunities for liaison Table 1: Interpretations of NNS goals Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 147 . several researchers (Landerl et al. while the numbers of children achieving nationally expected levels at the end of Key Stage 2 have grown significantly (Figure 1). compared to 6. who were supported by a teaching assistant.. to suggest that the interpretation and implementation of NNS guidance often falls short of the ideal. 2003) found that low attaining children in Years 1 and 2 (age range five to seven years). often translate imperfectly into classroom practice and there is some evidence (Hardman. Evidence on the impact of NNS on the standards achieved by lower attaining pupils has often been contradictory.Supporting children with gaps in their mathematical understanding ulary. suggested that the range of variation in results between lower and higher attainers between 1998 and 2002 had actually increased..3 per cent in English only and 3. the corresponding figure for mathematics is only 55 per cent.
Professional development materials were produced aimed at improving the quality of inclusive classroom teaching (DfES. The Strategies also developed a model based on three ‘Waves’ of intervention. projected towards 1998 7 1999 6 2000 6 2001 5 2002 5 2003 6. DfES.1 2005 5.3 2004 6. Response by the NNS to concerns about children with significant difficulties in mathematics Concern about the largely static numbers of very low attainers in mathematics led the NNS to develop a number of initiatives to raise standards for these children. Fifty per cent responded. 2005a). with Wave 1 represent148 ing high quality everyday inclusive classroom teaching. 2002. as are summer born children (three summer born for every two autumn born children achieving below Level 3). All named at least one Wave 3 literacy intervention and 21 different literacy interventions were identified as in fairly widespread use. 2004) and helping teachers work more effectively with teaching assistants (DfES. In the spring of 2002 all local authorities (LAs) were asked to provide information on literacy and mathematics interventions used in their area. and Wave 3 additional targeted interventions for the much smaller proportion (approximately 5 per cent) for whom the additional small group teaching is insufficient.Jean Gross 90 85 79 85 % pupi l s achievi ng l evel 4+ 80 75 75 70 65 60 55 50 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 English Figure 1: The percentage of children achieving Level 4 a 2008 target Maths at the end of Key Stage 2. Note: Figures before 2003 rounded to the nearest whole number social disadvantage are overrepresented in the low attaining group (by a factor of two). The first step in developing a strategy for Wave 3 intervention was to map existing provision in schools.8 Table 2: Percentage of pupils achieving below Level 3 in mathematics at the end of Key Stage 2 (age around 11 years). Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Wave 2 the provision of short periods of assistance in small groups for children who are not making satisfactory progress (about 20 per cent).
1997). individual characteristics. mentioned by three respondents. In contrast to literacy. . in contrast to language and literacy difficulties which are more common in boys. absence from school resulting in gaps in mathematics learning. In mathematics the position was clearly different. The remaining responses described locally devised interventions. ● It should be provided as early as possible. Barking and Dagenham’s Group Education Plans (Whitburn. to be taught in addition to the main lesson. and partly to prevent the development of negative attitudes to and anxiety about mathematics. which ‘can take place successfully at any time and can make an impact . but the amount of time given to such individualised work does not. Consequently. ● they represent one end of a continuum rather than a discrete ‘disorder’. . for example. ● some children have particular difficulties with the language of mathematics. partly because mathematical difficulties can affect performance in other areas of the curriculum. but rather to guide schools’ choice of programmes by providing information on their evidence base. in many cases. a one to one intensive (daily) teaching system for children in Year 1. These describe twenty-minute sessions for use with a group of children who are struggling with a key concept in the unit of work. including the use of Numicon materials in a structured teaching programme (Horner. lack of preschool home experience with mathematical activities and language. representation of place value and the ability to solve multistep arithmetic problems. Those that existed were confined to particular geographical areas. The review concluded that mathematical difficulties can be addressed through appropriate intervention. and that nothing can be done about it’ (Dowker. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 ● they are equally common in boys and girls. To inform the development of new Key Stage 2 materials. There was a need to stimulate greater activity and there was a particular gap in materials for Key Stage 2 (children aged 7 to 11 years). ● difficulty in remembering number facts is a very common component of arithmetical difficulties. often associated with dyslexia. few programmes were available.. The conclusions from the survey were that addressing mathematical difficulties was a low priority in many schools and local authorities. was Mathematics Recovery (Wright et al. 2004. p 42).Supporting children with gaps in their mathematical understanding Only seven of the LAs mentioned any Wave 3 maths interventions. ● Interventions that focus on the particular components of mathematics with which 149 . ● other common areas of difficulty include word problem solving. since a plethora was already available. 2002).. 2004) suggested that: ● mathematical difficulties are common and often quite specific. 2002). The review (Dowker. inadequate or inappropriate teaching. 2003). need to be very large to be effective. the DfES commissioned a review of research to identify what works for children with mathematical difficulties. 2000). ● their causes are varied and include. in which peers work together on a tutoring programme. The review drew out some general principles for effective intervention: ● It should be individualised. ● children with mathematical difficulties typically combine significant strengths with specific weaknesses. Other programmes known to be in use at the time but not mentioned in survey returns were Family Numeracy (Brooks & Hutchison. as arithmetical ability is not a single entity. ● they are varied and heterogeneous. the National Strategies took the decision not to develop or publish any new literacy programmes. a Numeracy Recovery scheme for six year olds (Dowker. 2001) and Paired Maths(Topping et al. For Key Stage 1 (age five to seven years) the NNS developed support sessions built into published teaching plans (DfES. 2003). but is made up of many components. The most widely used programme. it is not the case that a large number of children are simply “bad at maths”.
2001) through the use of questions to elicit information about children’s understanding. and the ‘common pedagogies delivered under special conditions’ described by Lewis and Norwich (2005). however. focused periods of one-to-one work ● Overlearning – continuing to practise new learning beyond the stage of apparent mastery ● Review and practice at progressively increasing intervals.Jean Gross the child has difficulty are more likely to be successful than those which follow a set ‘programme’. As a result of feedback. The design of the materials draws on key psychological understandings about how all children learn. ● Experiences of success to build children’s confidence in themselves as learners ● A clear link to whole-class activities ● Involvement of parents and carers in Developing the materials The principles set out in Dowker’s report were used to develop Supporting children with gaps in their mathematical understanding (DfES. 2005b). a set of materials for children in Key Stage 2. In the London Borough of Bromley. A series of booklets each address a particular error or misconception. Schools reported that the pilot had helped them move on from a sole focus on literacy in their special needs support. ● Distinguishing between ‘specific’ mathematical difficulties and those associated with generally low cognitive ability does not seem to be helpful in planning intervention. worked alongside class teachers to identify gaps in children’s knowledge. The materials take the form of assessment tools that allow class teachers to identify the particular errors and misconceptions that are limiting a child’s ability to progress. sharing the purpose of the activity with the learners and encouraging children’s reflection on their learning so that they identify for themselves possible next steps. The resource proved popular with school staff and children. for example. and describe teaching activities to undertake with the child on a one-to-one basis. then gradually handed over Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . specialist teachers familiarised senior managers with the aims of the intervention. Some schools. modelled use of the teaching materials for teaching assistants. and on recent investigations of the pedagogies that are appropriate for children with special educational needs – the ‘intensification of what is needed by all children’. Learning from the pilot Twenty-seven local authorities volunteered to pilot the materials in 2003–2005. The more effective local authorities responded to issues like these by targeting support from central services. Children in the pilot noted with pleasure the lack of worksheets. improvements were made to the assessment for learning opportunities throughout the materials. Some simply dovetailed the activities to objectives in the medium term planning for each year group and used the activities with lower sets/less able pupils as and when the Wave 3 activities and objectives coincided (Hurt. further links to whole class work were added and activities in the form of games both for use during teaching sessions and to involve parents and carers incorporated. to support recall ● An emphasis on metacognition – helping the child make explicit the strategies they are using so that they can achieve independence in their learning ● Multisensory learning. These include: ● Distributed practice – short. found it difficult to resource and implement the suggested model of detailed assessment and tailored one-to-one intervention. with maximum use of structured equipment and everyday materials to model mathematical concepts ● Linking learning to familiar and relevant contexts ● Attention to language – highlighting and modelling key vocabulary throughout 150 their children’s learning The materials reflect best practice in assessment for learning (Black & Wiliam. 2005).
As much as anything this represented a wish to give children’s mathematical difficulties a prominence in teachers’ minds similar to that engendered by the dyslexia label. Certainly the qualitative findings from the pilot need to be treated with caution. 2005). robust as they might be. In Norfolk. educational psychologists tested children in fourteen schools at the beginning and end of a six month intervention period using BEAM diagnostic interviews in number sense (Denvir and Bibby. Not surprisingly the greatest gains were in schools that had used the materials in a planned. or ‘not have’ a particular learning difficulty. 151 . given the history of adherence to unproven Wave 3 literacy programmes based only on perceptions that children ‘love doing them’ and ‘grow in confidence’.Supporting children with gaps in their mathematical understanding more and more of the teaching to them. Local findings like these are helpful. Later NNS publications. whilst less rigorous. but also much to be learned from the impact of a messy but ‘real’ activity in the field. 2001) made explicit use of the term dyscalculia. Evaluation of the impact of the materials Evaluation of the Wave 3 intervention at national level has so far been mainly in the form of qualitative comments with quantitative information on numbers of children attaining below Level 3 still awaited. The outcome. but wait to be replicated nationally. then. There is. Many had increased their National Curriculum levels by at least one sub-level. 2001) along with tests of cognitive ability. There seems to have been much change at the attitudinal level. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 Pragmatic stance on the emerging dyscalculia label Early guidance from the NNS (DfES. ‘It gave me a warm feeling in my tummy because I could do it’. are often hard to replicate when they move beyond the conditions in which they were originally devised. however. for example. was greatly increased confidence amongst teaching assistants (many of whom had been reluctant to be involved in a mathematics intervention) and a sustained and more strategic use of the intervention materials in schools. ‘I now feel confident to do my SATs next summer’. are more cautious in the use of the term. at least has the advantage of a firm grounding in an applied context. Typical comments from pupils have been: ‘I don’t feel sick any more because I can do this work’. just as they ‘have’ or ‘don’t have’ measles. The reasons are those that will be familiar to educational psychologists in relation to dyslexia: the evidence of a continuum of difficulties. Warm feelings like these need to translate into hard results if we are to take them seriously. including the Wave 3 mathematics intervention materials. as reported anecdotally. The National Strategies’ traditional means of evaluation (combining feedback from users with impact on national attainment patterns). Some local authorities have undertaken their own evaluations. generally initiated by educational psychologists. The results showed that almost all of the pupils had made greater progress in the time the Wave 3 materials had been used than in previous years. and the consequent risks of medical models that suggest children might either ‘have’. There is also a perceived risk of inadvertently encouraging varying levels of provision for children with different cognitive abilities. Controlled experimental studies. defining it as ‘a condition that affects the ability to acquire arithmetical skills’. For example: ‘We often hear “I can do it by myself ” whereas before it was more of “I can’t do it”’. Schools have mentioned children’s raised self esteem and more active participation in the daily mathematics lesson. systematic way and had effective support from senior management ( Johnson. ‘Anything that gets kids this excited about maths has to be worth putting lots of time and effort into’. need for further research into the impact of the NNS materials. rather than a discrete cut-off point.
For the moment. Papps & Dyson. 1994. We know that teachers are identifying ever more children with special needs (DfES. A social model of disability requires us to listen carefully to the perspectives of the learner. because of its power in eliminating the disabling effects of how others construe them – most usually as stupid or lazy. once ‘labelled’. They can then start from the assumption that all children who struggle with numbers and the number system are to some extent dyscalculic and proceed. information for teachers on strategies to help inattentive and hyperactive children boosted the pupils’ attainments but screening and identifying specific pupils as having ADHD had the opposite effect.. 2004). most of them working with children who find learning difficult. teacher-led use of the Wave 3 intervention. teachers focused on keeping the pupils happy and calm rather than encouraging them to achieve. The explanation suggested by the researchers was that.Jean Gross based on the inappropriate but pervasive use of a discrepancy model. 2004). Diagnosis and labelling can have negative effects on children’s attainment as illustrated by Tymms & Merrell (2004). Yet diagnosis and labelling can also have benefits. but there were another twenty who could not do maths and whose support needs were. the support service’s time might better have been spent working with teachers to help them overcome perceived barriers to appropriate. as far as anyone could see. but the percentage of very low attainers has hardly shifted over the same period. which was to use NFERNelson dyscalculia tests to identify children requiring intervention. 152 It is important to avoid this pattern repeating as we develop our knowledge about mathematical difficulties.cit) that failed to give support to the idea of a discrete teaching methodology for any one group of learners with arithmetic difficulties. Many children and adults would equally attest to the importance of having a label such as dyslexia. A medical-diagnostic model is unlikely to achieve this. Yet the provision of such additional resources may not be helpful: the number of teaching assistants has doubled in England since 1998 (Blatchford et al. It is salutary to reflect on the response of one special needs support service to the National Strategies’ Wave 3 materials. to the much more important question ‘So what are we going to do to about it in the classroom?’ Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . In educational terms. It is not unique. educational psychologists might want to adopt the scientifically less interesting but educationally more useful approach of taking dyscalculia by its literal meaning (an inability to calculate). in their work with teachers. According to their research. 2006) and that the rate of so-called special educational needs (SEN) amongst boys of primary age is reaching epidemic proportions (almost one third of eight year old boys are now identified by their teachers as having special educational needs). Finally. Another risk is an over-investment of time and energy in diagnosis and labelling in local authority support services. note has been taken of the Dowker research overview (op. then. This is an example of how a medicaldiagnostic model based on assumed pathology can obstruct the development of appropriate curricular responses in the classroom. rather than placing them outside it. For some conditions such as autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) there is evidence that early diagnosis is important in reducing family stress and for the later mental health of the children involved. perhaps more carefully than to sterile debates about whether certain conditions exist or do not exist. identical. The focus needs to be on holding such children in the teacher’s sphere of responsibility. It would seem that the concept has become little more than an excuse: a social construction that identifies a large number of children as not teachable unless they are provided with additional resources and support. The tests revealed three children who were ‘dyscalculic’. because it leads adults to respond in ways that minimise the potentially disabling effects of autism (Gross.
We have the opportunity. P. helping the school develop effective strategic management of additional provision (Gross & White. London: DfES. and the history of dyslexia research and debate illuminating. DfES (2003). Implications for educational psychology practice are clear. Has the National Numeracy Strategy raised standards? In I. (2001). Interventions in numeracy: the development of a numeracy recovery project for young children with arithmetical difficulties. A. Dyson & Hick (2005) concluded that successful literacy interventions have ‘a basis in a universally applicable model of reading development that leads them to play down an aetiological approach to understanding children’s difficulties in favour of a functional one. Every Child a Reader. London: DfES.. London: DfES. Dowker. and educational psychologists can help by modelling the use of assessment tools such as those provided in the NNS materials. Salisbury Square. D. Paper presented to the British Educational Research Association conference. The role and effects of teaching assistants in English primary schools (Years 4 to 6). The effective management of teaching assistants to raise standards in literacy and mathematics. There is a need for good systems for tracking and regular review of pupil progress.uk. J. (2000). Including all children in the literacy hour and daily mathematics lesson. (2001). moreover. (2003). What works for children with mathematical difficulties. & Wiliam. & Bibby. Londn EC4Y 8BB. & Martin. It is to be hoped that their background and training in the future will continue to provide them with the expertise they need to provide this type of consultative support. September 2000. P. London: Basic Skills Agency.gross@kpmg. Blatchford. 2003). A. Teacher questioning and pupil anxiety in the primary classroom. Cardiff University. A. Put simply. Black. Russell.co. London: DfES. in the relatively new field of mathematical difficulties. January 2006. London: DfES. DfES (2005a). The skills of educational psychologists. DfES (2004). DfES (2006). The ‘diagnosis’ should be about what the children know and what they need to learn: teachers still need support with this. References Anderson. 6–10. P. Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 153 . 16. Brown. H. Educational psychologists have traditionally had the skills to help schools develop such systems. they need to encourage a teaching and learning response rather than one based on the probing of cognitive causation. Special educational needs in England. & Millett. KPMG Foundation. London: DfES. The parallels between mathematics and literacy are evident. the reading task remains the same’ (p. Learning and teaching for children with SEN in the primary years. to develop from the start effective teaching strategies that work for all rather than distinct routes based on diagnostic categories. Research Student Symposium. Dowker. Family numeracy adds on. D..). can be applied at systems level. Denvir. Brown. Support for Learning. London: DfES. London: DfES.. E-mail: jean. Guidance to support pupils with dyslexia and dyscalculia. London: King’s College London School of Education. DfES (2002). Brooks. (2004).195). G. Effective provision for children with mathematical difficulties involves a coherent whole-school approach.Supporting children with gaps in their mathematical understanding Conclusion In their analysis of pedagogies for low attaining children. London: DfES. M. (2001). London: BEAM Education. DfES (2001). Thompson (Ed. Address for Correspondence Jean Gross. Models and images. Inside the Black Box: raising standards through classroom assessment. (2004). Diagnostic interviews in number sense. P. & Hutchison. A. It requires systematic. C. Enhancing primary mathematics teaching. Bassett. whatever the underlying causes of children’s falling behind. and rigorous evaluation. (2002). targeted and time limited support informed by data and evidence on what works. DfES (2005b). close connections between the intervention and the work of the class as a whole. the positive engagement of parents and carers. Supporting children with gaps in their mathematical understanding. T. In their consultations with individual teachers. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Cognition. J. Worlds apart: A review of the international surveys of educational achievement involving England. Muijs. University of London. S. Landerl.Jean Gross Dyson. A. (2005). London: HMSO. Institute of Education. September 18th–20th. Mathematics in school. 45(3).. B. & Hick.) (2005).. & White. Autumn 2002. (2004). & Merrell. Lewis. Johnson. Norwich (Eds. 31. 2–7. Grouping patterns in primary schools. F. & Butterworth. Tymms. Hardman. 93. London: David Fulton. Special needs and school improvement. Educational Psychology in Practice. In A. Reynolds. K. A. (2003). 104–10. McSherry. (2005). (1994). I. University of Dundee. R. Personal communication. (1996). B. (2002). Developmental dyscalculia and basic numerical capacities: A study of 8–9 year old students. Whitburn. (2003). Horner. Special teaching for special children? Buckingham: Open University Press. Asperger syndrome: A label worth having. Educational Research. (2003). 45(3). London: Chapman..uk/PDFs/ESRCReport. (Eds. A. & Stafford. 154 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Counting on it. Low attainment. L. cem. D. The effectiveness of the use of learning support assistants in improving the mathematics achievement of low achieving pupils in primary school. J. (2002). C. & Farrell. 231–240. Douglas. Wright. The costs and benefits of earlier identification and effective intervention. & Ollerton. Lewis & B. J. 19(2). Martland. Cross-age peer tutoring in mathematics with seven and 11 year–olds. (2004). W. Interactive whole class teaching in the national literacy and numeracy strategies.. & Norwich. Hurt. & Dyson. Norfolk Wave 3. Educational Research. London: DfES. A. Paper presented at the Learning Conference 2003: What Learning Means. (2005). (2004). hyperactive and impulsive children. D. 219–230. Papps. P. A. Gross.). 99–125. Screening and interventions for inattentive. Improving mathematics attainment: lessons from abroad? Paper presented to Scottish Educational Research Association annual conference. J. Special.dur. Topping. A. M. Campbell. K. (1997). Personal communication. (2000). Special teaching for special children? Buckingham: Open University Press. J. Gross. K. Bevan. P. University of Durham: http://pips. A. (2003). V. J. Early numeracy: Assessment for teaching and intervention. & Smith..pdf.
particularly with decimals. The materials consist of a series of teaching activities. and having little sense of the size of the numbers involved Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 . Difficulty in partitioning numbers with zero place holders and/or numbers less than one Difficulty in choosing suitable methods for calculations that cross boundaries. each addressing one of the following common errors and misconceptions. lacks systematic approaches Misunderstanding the meaning of one more and one less. ‘multiplied by’ Failing to link counting up in equal steps to the operation of multiplication Seeing an array as a collection of ones rather than focusing on ‘rows of’ or ‘columns of ’ Failure to use partitioning when doubling Difficulty in relating multiplying by two to known facts about doubles Failure to use knowledge of doubles to find half of a number Not being systematic when sharing into equal groups or using the language of division to describe the process Not understanding that ‘sets of’ or ‘groups of’ need to be subtracted to solve a problem Lack of confident recall of multiplication facts Not understanding the relationship between multiplication and division facts Not understanding the operation of multiplying by ten Failure to apply partitioning and recombining when multiplying Assuming that the commutative law holds for division Writing a remainder that is larger than the divisor 155 Addition and subtraction Difficulty in counting – can only begin counting at one. Multiplication and division Confusing numbers when counting in twos Difficulty with identifying doubles and adding a small number to itself Making unequal groups when grouping. and not being able to identify the number before or after a given number Failing to relate the combining of groups of objects to addition Not being confident about when to stop counting when subtracting in answer to the question ‘how many are left?’ Making counting mistakes when using teen numbers and/or crossing boundaries Difficulty in remembering number pairs totalling between 10 and 20 Counting up unreliably – still counting the smaller number to get one too many in the answer Failing to relate finding a difference and complementary addition to the operation of subtraction Not making links between addition and subtraction and/or recognising inverses Not readily using number patterns to support calculating Insecure understanding of the structure of the number system Difficulty in partitioning Difficulty in deciding when to use calculations laid out in columns Difficulty in adding three numbers in a column Inefficient counting strategies for large numbers Rounding inaccurately.Supporting children with gaps in their mathematical understanding Appendix Supporting children with gaps in their mathematical understanding focuses on addition/subtraction and multiplication/division objectives in the English National Numeracy Strategy mathematics framework. and being unable to compare the groups Difficulty when sharing in dealing with any left over after making equal groups Difficulty in counting reliably in tens from a multiple of ten Not understand vocabulary such as ‘groups of’.
Jean Gross Not understanding the significance of a remainder Not understanding rules about multiplying and dividing by powers of ten and the associative law Difficulty in interpreting a remainder as a fraction Interpreting division as sharing but not as grouping (repeated subtraction) Difficulty in making reasonable estimates. 156 Educational & Child Psychology Vol 24 No 2 .