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Young children’s spontaneous focusing on Arabic number symbols. In J. Torbeyns (Chair), Spontaneous mathematical focusing tendencies. Symposium conducted at the biennial meeting of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI)

By Sanne Rathé, Joke Torbeyns, Bert De Smedt and Lieven Verschaffel


Young children’s spontaneous focusing on numerosity (SFON) has been identified as an important contributor to mathematical development. Previous SFON studies only focused on children’s spontaneous attention for non-symbolic representations of number and ignored children’s spontaneous attention for symbolic representations of number, such as Arabic number symbols. Research has shown that children develop a substantial knowledge of Arabic number symbols from an early age on, which suggests that a separate inclination to spontaneously focus on Arabic number symbols (SFONS) might exist in addition to SFON. The present study aimed to explore this hypothesis by studying children’s SFONS in relation to their SFON, mathematical abilities, and teacher rating of math competence. Participants were 111 kindergartners (Mage = 4 years 8 months) who completed five tasks: a SFON Picture task, a SFONS Picture task, a numeral identification task, a verbal counting task, and a counting objects task. Children’s math competence was rated on a 4-point Likert scale by their kindergarten teachers. In line with our hypothesis, our results showed that a separate SFONS tendency can be distinguished within children’s existing mathematical competencies in addition to SFON. Children’s SFONS was significantly associated with early mathematical abilities (i.e., numeral identification and counting objects ability) and teacher rating of math competence. Extending the research on SFON, this study showed that SFONS can be distinguished in addition to SFON, and moreover, is related to early mathematical abilities and math competence, and thus might be a potentially relevant contributor to early mathematical development.status: publishe

Topics: mathematics education, SFON, Arabic number symbols, symbolic numerical abilities, children
Year: 2017
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Provided by: Lirias
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