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Do different types of school mathematics development depend on different constellations of numerical versus general cognitive abilities?

Authors
  • Fuchs, Lynn S
  • Geary, David C
  • Compton, Donald L
  • Fuchs, Douglas
  • Hamlett, Carol L
  • Seethaler, Pamela M
  • Bryant, Joan D
  • Schatschneider, Christopher
Type
Published Article
Journal
Developmental psychology
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2010
Volume
46
Issue
6
Pages
1731–1746
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1037/a0020662
PMID: 20822213
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the interplay between basic numerical cognition and domain-general abilities (such as working memory) in explaining school mathematics learning. First graders (N = 280; mean age = 5.77 years) were assessed on 2 types of basic numerical cognition, 8 domain-general abilities, procedural calculations, and word problems in fall and then reassessed on procedural calculations and word problems in spring. Development was indexed by latent change scores, and the interplay between numerical and domain-general abilities was analyzed by multiple regression. Results suggest that the development of different types of formal school mathematics depends on different constellations of numerical versus general cognitive abilities. When controlling for 8 domain-general abilities, both aspects of basic numerical cognition were uniquely predictive of procedural calculations and word problems development. Yet, for procedural calculations development, the additional amount of variance explained by the set of domain-general abilities was not significant, and only counting span was uniquely predictive. By contrast, for word problems development, the set of domain-general abilities did provide additional explanatory value, accounting for about the same amount of variance as the basic numerical cognition variables. Language, attentive behavior, nonverbal problem solving, and listening span were uniquely predictive.

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