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Numeracy support in the early years

2024, Munez, David, Cheung, Pierina

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Working memory training and math achievement evidence from a large-scale intervention in a real learning environment.

2020, Munez, David, Khng, Kiat Hui, Lee, Kerry, Bull, Rebecca, Cheam, Fiona, Ridzuan Abdul Rahim

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Ratio reasoning and kindergarteners’ math ability

2022, Munez, David, Cheung, Pierina, Bull, Rebecca

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Supporting the understanding of cardinal number knowledge in preschoolers: Evidence from instructional practices based on finger patterns

2022, Orrantia, Josetxu, Munez, David, Sanchez, Maria Rosario, Matilla, Laura

The acquisition of cardinal numbers represents a crucial milestone in the development of early numerical skills and more advanced math abilities. However, relatively few studies have investigated how children's grasping of the cardinality principle can be supported. It has been suggested that the richness of number inputs children receive influences the acquisition of cardinal numbers. The present study was designed to investigate whether canonical finger patterns representing numbers may contribute to this acquisition. Fifty-one 3-year-olds were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 training conditions: (a) a condition that involved counting and labeling, which has shown efficacy to support the acquisition of cardinality, and (b) a condition in which counting and labeling were enriched with finger patterns. Crucially, we aimed at providing evidence of both training programs in a real-life learning environment where teachers incorporated the training as a group-based activity into their regular schedule of daily activities. Children assigned to the finger-based condition outperformed those who received the counting-and-label training. Findings suggest that finger patterns may have a role in children's cardinality understanding. Furthermore, our study shows that instructional approaches for improving cardinality understanding can be easily and successfully implemented into real-life learning settings.

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The development of early arithmetic skills: What, when, and how?

2022, Cheung, Pierina, Munez, David, Ng, Ee Lynn, Khng, Kiat Hui, Bull, Rebecca

Arithmetic skills – the ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide – are the building blocks of mathematics. Poor arithmetic skills can lead to poor job prospects and life outcomes. It is thus important to investigate the development of arithmetic skills. What constitute the foundations for arithmetic skills? When do they develop? Previous studies have highlighted the importance of the toddler and preschool period as providing foundations for later math learning. In this chapter, we provide an overview of key factors across domain-specific and domain-general areas that support the development of arithmetic skills. We then draw on existing data from the Singapore Kindergarten Impact Project (SKIP) and describe the performance of basic numeracy skills at entry to kindergarten that are relevant for arithmetic learning. These skills include counting, informal arithmetic, and the reading and writing of Arabic digits. Finally, we conclude with guidelines for promoting the development of early mathematical knowledge in the classroom and at home.

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Mapping skills between symbols and quantities in preschoolers: The role of finger patterns

2024, Orrantia, Josetxu, Munez, David, Sanchez, Rosario, Matilla, Laura

Mapping skills between different codes to represent numerical information, such as number symbols (i.e., verbal number words and written digits) and non-symbolic quantities, are important in the development of the concept of number. The aim of the current study is to investigate children's mapping skills by incorporating another numerical code that emerges at early stages in development, finger patterns. Specifically, the study investigates (i) the order in which mapping skills develop and the association with young children's understanding of cardinality; and (ii) whether finger patterns are processed similarly to symbolic codes or rather as non-symbolic quantities. Preschool children (3-year-olds, N = 113, Mage = 40.8 months, SDage = 3.6 months; 4-year-olds, N = 103, Mage = 52.9 months, SDage = 3.4 months) both cardinality knowers and subset-knowers, were presented with twelve tasks that assessed the mappings between number words, Arabic digits, finger patterns, and quantities. The results showed that children's ability to map symbolic numbers precedes the understanding that such symbols reflect quantities, and that children recognize finger patterns above their cardinality knowledge, suggesting that finger patterns are symbolic in essence.

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Rasch modeling of the test of early mathematics ability: Third edition with a sample of K1 children in Singapore

2017, Yao, Shih-Ying, Munez, David, Bull, Rebecca, Lee, Kerry, Khng, Kiat Hui, Poon, Kenneth K.

The Test of Early Mathematics Ability – Third Edition (TEMA-3) is a commonly used measure of early mathematics knowledge for children aged 3 years to 8 years 11 months. In spite of its wide use, research on the psychometric properties of TEMA-3 remains limited. This study applied the Rasch model to investigate the psychometric properties of TEMA-3 from three aspects: technical qualities, internal structure, and convergent evidence. Data were collected from 971 K1 children in Singapore. Item fit statistics suggested a reasonable model-data fit. The TEMA-3 items were found to demonstrate generally good technical qualities, interpretable internal structure, and reasonable convergent evidence. Implications for test development, test use, and future research are further discussed.

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Socioeconomic status, home mathematics environment and math achievement in kindergarten: A mediation analysis

2021, Munez, David, Bull, Rebecca, Lee, Kerry

Growing evidence suggests that parents’ practices contribute to their children's cognitive development and that such practices may reflect SES disparities. This study investigated longitudinal interrelations between home mathematics environment (HME), children's math achievement, and two facets of SES (mother's educational attainment and household income—subsidy status) during the first year in kindergarten (n = 500 children; Mage at T1 = 57.3 months, SD = 3.8). Results revealed that these facets of SES operated through different mechanisms in kindergarten—the association between mothers’ education and math growth at the end of K1 is fully mediated by HME and children's baseline math knowledge. Furthermore, only home math activities that explicitly supported the understanding of addition and subtraction contributed to children's math growth independently of SES background. The pattern of longitudinal associations suggests that the provision of home math activities may reflect children's mathematical abilities rather than SES disparities.

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Maternal education and siblings: Agents of cognitive development in kindergarten

2022, Munez, David, Bull, Rebecca, Lee, Kerry

In this study (n = 1000, Mage at K1entry = 53.4 months, SD = 3.4; 53% females), we investigated the contributions of the family socioeconomic status (SES; maternal education and an income-related measure) and number and age of siblings to the development of children's math, reading, and working memory (WM) updating skills over the kindergarten years. Results from a multivariate multilevel growth curve model showed that children from more disadvantaged SES backgrounds already had a multifaceted developmental lag at kindergarten entry. Maternal education was the aspect of SES that more clearly affected the child's cognitive development; the mother's education predicted children's math, reading, and WM-updating skills at kindergarten entry as well as the rate of development of reading skills over the kindergarten years. Independently of SES status, children with more siblings also showed poorer reading and math skills than those in one-child families at kindergarten entry. We also found that both older and younger siblings affected, negatively, children's reading skills before they attended kindergarten—which suggests that the development of reading skills is more responsive to environmental factors during the first years than other aspects of the child development. The findings underscore the independent role of siblings upon entry to kindergarten, and the enduring role of maternal education even after children are exposed to formal schooling.

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The development of number line estimation in children at risk of mathematics learning difficulties: A longitudinal study

2024, Ruiz, Carola, Kohnen, Saskia, Munez, David, Bull, Rebecca

Children with mathematics learning difficulties (MLD) show poorer performance on the number line task, but how performance on this task relates to other mathematical skills is unclear. This study examined the association between performance on the number line task and mathematical skills during the first 2 years of school for children at risk of MLD. Children (N = 100; Mage = 83.63 months) were assessed on four occasions on the number line task and other mathematical skills (math fluency, numerical operations, and mathematical reasoning). Estimation patterns were analyzed based on the representational shift and proportional judgment accounts separately. More consistent longitudinal trends and stronger evidence for differences in mathematical skills based on estimation patterns were found within the representational shift account. Latent growth curve models showed accuracy on the number line task as a predictor of growth in some mathematical skills assessed. We discuss impacts of methodological limitations on the study of estimation patterns.