Individual Differences in Kindergarten Math Achievement: The Integrative Roles of Approximation Skills and Working Memory

I. Xenidou-Dervou, B. De Smedt, M. van der Schoot, E.C.D.M. van Lieshout

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Kindergarteners can conduct basic computations with large nonsymbolic (e.g. dots, objects) and symbolic (i.e. Arabic numbers) numerosities in an approximate manner. These abilities are related to individual differences in mathematics achievement. At the same time, these individual differences are also determined by Working Memory (WM). The interrelationship between approximation, WM and math achievement has been largely unexplored. Also, the differential role of nonsymbolic and symbolic approximation in explaining math competencies is yet unclear. We examined an integrative theoretical model on the association between approximation (addition and comparison) and WM in 444 kindergarteners. As expected, approximation entailed two distinct abilities (nonsymbolic and symbolic). Both abilities correlated with mathematics achievement (i.e. counting and exact arithmetic), even when WM was taken into account. The association between nonsymbolic approximation and math achievement was completely mediated by symbolic approximation skills. These findings add to our understanding of the cognitive architecture underlying kindergarten math achievement. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Volume28
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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Short-Term Memory
kindergarten
Individuality
Aptitude
Mathematics
ability
mathematics
Theoretical Models

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title = "Individual Differences in Kindergarten Math Achievement: The Integrative Roles of Approximation Skills and Working Memory",
abstract = "Kindergarteners can conduct basic computations with large nonsymbolic (e.g. dots, objects) and symbolic (i.e. Arabic numbers) numerosities in an approximate manner. These abilities are related to individual differences in mathematics achievement. At the same time, these individual differences are also determined by Working Memory (WM). The interrelationship between approximation, WM and math achievement has been largely unexplored. Also, the differential role of nonsymbolic and symbolic approximation in explaining math competencies is yet unclear. We examined an integrative theoretical model on the association between approximation (addition and comparison) and WM in 444 kindergarteners. As expected, approximation entailed two distinct abilities (nonsymbolic and symbolic). Both abilities correlated with mathematics achievement (i.e. counting and exact arithmetic), even when WM was taken into account. The association between nonsymbolic approximation and math achievement was completely mediated by symbolic approximation skills. These findings add to our understanding of the cognitive architecture underlying kindergarten math achievement. {\circledC} 2013 Elsevier Inc.",
author = "I. Xenidou-Dervou and {De Smedt}, B. and {van der Schoot}, M. and {van Lieshout}, E.C.D.M.",
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Individual Differences in Kindergarten Math Achievement: The Integrative Roles of Approximation Skills and Working Memory. / Xenidou-Dervou, I.; De Smedt, B.; van der Schoot, M.; van Lieshout, E.C.D.M.

In: Learning and Individual Differences, Vol. 28, 2013, p. 119-129.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AB - Kindergarteners can conduct basic computations with large nonsymbolic (e.g. dots, objects) and symbolic (i.e. Arabic numbers) numerosities in an approximate manner. These abilities are related to individual differences in mathematics achievement. At the same time, these individual differences are also determined by Working Memory (WM). The interrelationship between approximation, WM and math achievement has been largely unexplored. Also, the differential role of nonsymbolic and symbolic approximation in explaining math competencies is yet unclear. We examined an integrative theoretical model on the association between approximation (addition and comparison) and WM in 444 kindergarteners. As expected, approximation entailed two distinct abilities (nonsymbolic and symbolic). Both abilities correlated with mathematics achievement (i.e. counting and exact arithmetic), even when WM was taken into account. The association between nonsymbolic approximation and math achievement was completely mediated by symbolic approximation skills. These findings add to our understanding of the cognitive architecture underlying kindergarten math achievement. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

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