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The role of cognitive processes, foundational math skill, and calculation accuracy and fluency in word-problem solving versus prealgebraic knowledge

By Lynn S. Fuchs, Jennifer K. Gilbert, Sarah R. Powell, Paul T. Cirino, Douglas Fuchs, Carol L. Hamlett, Pamela M. Seethaler and Tammy D. Tolar


The purpose of this study was to examine child-level pathways in development of prealgebraic knowledge versus word-problem solving, while evaluating the contribution of calculation accuracy and fluency as mediators of foundational skills/processes. Children (n = 962; mean 7.60 years) were assessed on general cognitive processes and early calculation, word-problem, and number knowledge at start of Grade 2; calculation accuracy and calculation fluency at end of Grade 2; and prealgebraic knowledge and word-problem solving at end of Grade 4. Important similarities in pathways were identified, but path analysis also indicated that language comprehension is more critical for later word-problem solving than prealgebraic knowledge. We conclude that pathways in development of these forms of 4th-grade mathematics performance are more alike than different, but demonstrate the need to fine-tune instruction for strands of the mathematics curriculum in ways that address individual students' foundational mathematics skills or cognitive processes

Topics: Mathematics development, Algebra, Word problems, Accuracy, Fluency
Publisher: 'American Psychological Association (APA)'
Year: 2016
DOI identifier: 10.1037/dev0000227
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