Mathematical Profile Test: A Preliminary Evaluation of an Online Assessment for Mathematics Skills of Children in Grades 1-6.
ABSTRACT: The domain of numerical cognition still lacks an assessment tool that is theoretically driven and that covers a wide range of key numerical processes with the aim of identifying the learning profiles of children with difficulties in mathematics (MD) or dyscalculia. This paper is the first presentation of an online collectively administered tool developed to meet these goals. The Mathematical Profile Test (MathPro Test) includes 18 subtests that assess numerical skills related to the core number domain or to the visual-spatial, memory or reasoning domains. The specific aim of this paper is to present the preliminary evaluation both of the sensitivity and the psychometric characteristics of the individual measures of the MathPro Test, which was administered to 622 primary school children (grades 1-6) in Belgium. Performance on the subtests increased across all grades and varied along the level of difficulty of the items, supporting the sensitivity of the test. The MathPro Test also showed satisfactory internal consistency and significant and stable correlation with a standardized test in mathematics across all grades. In particular, the achievement in mathematics was strongly associated with the performance on the subtests assessing the reasoning and the visuospatial domains throughout all school grades, whereas associations with the core number and memory tasks were found mainly in the younger children. MD children performed significantly lower than their peers; these differences in performance on the MathPro subtests also varied according to the school grades, informing us about the developmental changes of the weaknesses of children with MD. These results suggest that the MathPro Test is a very promising tool for conducting large scale research and for clinicians to sketch out the mathematical profile of children with MD or dyscalculia.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Spatial reasoning skill has consistently been found to be malleable. However, there is little research to date on embedding spatial training within learning frameworks. This study evaluated the effects of a classroom-based spatial reasoning intervention on middle school children's spatial reasoning. Participants included 337 students from 15 classrooms across 6 schools with 8 experimental and 7 control classes. The program was designed for grades 3, 4, 5, and 6. The intervention program was delivered within the Experience-Language-Pictorial-Symbolic-Application (ELPSA) framework and was delivered across 10 weeks by classroom teachers, while the control group received standard mathematics instruction. RESULTS:Children in the experimental classes outperformed the control classes on spatial reasoning at the conclusion of the program. The intervention program received high levels of engagement and evidence for development through the stages of the ELPSA framework. CONCLUSIONS:This paper provides evidence for the effectiveness of a rich spatial training program delivered within a learning framework. This program has applications for spatial thinking in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Project description:Developmental dyscalculia is thought to be a specific impairment of mathematics ability. Currently dominant cognitive neuroscience theories of developmental dyscalculia suggest that it originates from the impairment of the magnitude representation of the human brain, residing in the intraparietal sulcus, or from impaired connections between number symbols and the magnitude representation. However, behavioral research offers several alternative theories for developmental dyscalculia and neuro-imaging also suggests that impairments in developmental dyscalculia may be linked to disruptions of other functions of the intraparietal sulcus than the magnitude representation. Strikingly, the magnitude representation theory has never been explicitly contrasted with a range of alternatives in a systematic fashion. Here we have filled this gap by directly contrasting five alternative theories (magnitude representation, working memory, inhibition, attention and spatial processing) of developmental dyscalculia in 9-10-year-old primary school children. Participants were selected from a pool of 1004 children and took part in 16 tests and nine experiments. The dominant features of developmental dyscalculia are visuo-spatial working memory, visuo-spatial short-term memory and inhibitory function (interference suppression) impairment. We hypothesize that inhibition impairment is related to the disruption of central executive memory function. Potential problems of visuo-spatial processing and attentional function in developmental dyscalculia probably depend on short-term memory/working memory and inhibition impairments. The magnitude representation theory of developmental dyscalculia was not supported.
Project description:Trait self-control, the ability to interrupt undesired behavioral tendencies and to refrain from acting on them, is one of the most important socio-emotional skills. There had been some evidence that it outperforms intelligence in predicting students' achievement measured as both school grades and standardized achievement tests. However, recent research has shown that the relationships between trait self-control and measures of achievement are more equivocal, emphasizing the importance of the respective outcome of the test to the individual. On the one hand, high-stakes school achievement measures such as GPA repeatedly showed strong relationships with trait self-control. On the other hand, findings on the relationships between trait self-control and performance in mostly low-stakes standardized achievement tests were more heterogeneous. The substantial positive relationship between intelligence and both achievement measures is uncontested. However, the incremental value of trait self-control beyond intelligence when investigating their relationships with achievement remains uncertain. To investigate the relationships of self-control with school achievement and two standardized achievement tests (school mathematics and physics) beyond fluid reasoning, we drew on a large heterogeneous sample of adults in vocational training (N = 3,146). Results show differential patterns of results for fluid reasoning and trait self-control and the achievement measures. Trait self-control and fluid reasoning showed similar relationships with school achievement, whereas only fluid reasoning was significantly associated with standardized achievement test scores. For both achievement measures, no significant interaction effects between trait self-control and fluid reasoning were found. The results highlight the utility of trait self-control for performance in high-stakes school assessment beyond fluid reasoning, but set limits to the overall value of trait self-control for achievement in standardized assessments-at least in low-stakes testing situations.
Project description:Anthropometric characteristics and iron status affect cognitive performance in children. In addition, selenium can influence cognitive outcomes; protection of the brain from oxidative stress and its role in thyroid hormone metabolism are putative mechanisms.To investigate their association with cognitive performance, anthropometric indicators, iron biomarkers, and serum selenium of children (n = 541) of 54-60mo of age from rural Ethiopia were assessed. Cognitive assessment was conducted with the administration of two reasoning subtests of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence and the school readiness test.Stunting was found in 41.4 % of children, 28.7 % were underweight, and 6.3 % were wasted. The mean score of stunted children was lower than that of non-stunted children on non-verbal reasoning (7.0 ± 3.2vs7.9 ± 3.1; p = 0.01) and the school readiness tests (4.3 ± 2.2 vs 3.3 ± 2.1; p < 0.001). Compared to non-anemic children, anemic children had lower score for the verbal reasoning test (9.5 ± 1.7 vs 8.9 ± 2.2; p = 0.02). However, except for hemoglobin, none of the iron biomarkers had significant associations with the cognitive score of the study children (p > 0.05). Selenium deficient children had lower scores on all cognitive tests than normal children (p < 0.05).The present study finding linking chronic undernutrition and micronutrient deficiency to cognitive deficits suggests the need for designing effective intervention programmes to control for protein energy malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency and address cognitive development in children.
Project description:A research link between conditional reasoning and mathematics has been reported only for late adolescents and adults, despite claims about the pivotal importance of conditional reasoning, i.e., reasoning with if-then statements, in mathematics. Secondary students' problems with deductive reasoning in mathematics have been documented for a long time. However, evidence from developmental psychology shows that even elementary students possess some early conditional reasoning skills in familiar contexts. It is still an open question to what extent conditional reasoning with mathematical concepts differs from conditional reasoning in familiar everyday contexts. Based on Mental Model Theory (MMT) of conditional reasoning, we assume that (mathematical) content knowledge will influence the generation of models, when conditionals concern mathematical concepts. In a cross-sectional study, 102 students in Cyprus from grades 2, 4, and 6 solved four conditional reasoning tasks on each type of content (everyday and mathematical). All four logical forms, modus ponens (MP), modus tollens (MT), denial of the antecedent (DA), and affirmation of the consequent (AC), were included in each task. Consistent with previous findings, even second graders were able to make correct inferences on some logical forms. Controlling for Working Memory (WM), there were significant effects of grade and logical form, with stronger growth on MP and AC than on MT and DA. The main effect of context was not significant, but context interacted significantly with logical form and grade level. The pattern of results was not consistent with the predictions of MMT. Based on analyses of students' chosen responses, we propose an alternative mechanism explaining the specific pattern of results. The study indicates that deductive reasoning skills arise from a combination of knowledge of domain-general principles and domain-specific knowledge. It extends results concerning the gradual development of primary students' conditional reasoning with everyday concepts to reasoning with mathematical concepts adding to our understanding of the link between mathematics and conditional reasoning in primary school. The results inspire the development of educational interventions, while further implications and limitations of the study are discussed.
Project description:Evidence from cognitive neuroscience suggests that learning counterintuitive concepts in mathematics and science requires inhibitory control (IC). This prevents interference from misleading perceptual cues and naïve theories children have built from their experiences of the world. Here, we (1) investigate associations between IC, counterintuitive reasoning, and academic achievement and (2) evaluate a classroom-based computerised intervention, called Stop & Think, designed to embed IC training within the learning domain (i.e. mathematics and science content from the school curricula). Cross-sectional analyses of data from 627 children in Years 3 and 5 (7- to 10-year-olds) demonstrated that IC, measured on a Stroop-like task, was associated with counterintuitive reasoning and mathematics and science achievement. A subsample (n =?456) participated either in Stop & Think as a whole-class activity (teacher-led, STT) or using individual computers (pupil-led, STP), or had teaching as usual (TAU). For Year 3 children (but not Year 5), Stop & Think led to better counterintuitive reasoning (i.e. near transfer) in STT (p <?.001, ?p 2 =?.067) and STP (p <?.01, ?p 2 =?.041) compared to TAU. Achievement data was not available for Year 3 STP or Year 5 STT. For Year 3, STT led to better science achievement (i.e. far transfer) compared to TAU (p <?.05, ?p 2 =?.077). There was no transfer to the Stroop-like measure of IC. Overall, these findings support the idea that IC may contribute to counterintuitive reasoning and mathematics and science achievement. Further, we provide preliminary evidence of a domain-specific IC intervention with transferable benefits to academic achievement for Year 3 children.
Project description:Many children show negative emotions related to mathematics and some even develop mathematics anxiety. The present study focused on the relation between negative emotions and arithmetical performance in children with and without developmental dyscalculia (DD) using an affective priming task. Previous findings suggested that arithmetic performance is influenced if an affective prime precedes the presentation of an arithmetic problem. In children with DD specifically, responses to arithmetic operations are supposed to be facilitated by both negative and mathematics-related primes (=negative math priming effect).We investigated mathematical performance, math anxiety, and the domain-general abilities of 172 primary school children (76 with DD and 96 controls). All participants also underwent an affective priming task which consisted of the decision whether a simple arithmetic operation (addition or subtraction) that was preceded by a prime (positive/negative/neutral or mathematics-related) was true or false. Our findings did not reveal a negative math priming effect in children with DD. Furthermore, when considering accuracy levels, gender, or math anxiety, the negative math priming effect could not be replicated. However, children with DD showed more math anxiety when explicitly assessed by a specific math anxiety interview and showed lower mathematical performance compared to controls. Moreover, math anxiety was equally present in boys and girls, even in the earliest stages of schooling, and interfered negatively with performance. In conclusion, mathematics is often associated with negative emotions that can be manifested in specific math anxiety, particularly in children with DD. Importantly, present findings suggest that in the assessed age group, it is more reliable to judge math anxiety and investigate its effects on mathematical performance explicitly by adequate questionnaires than by an affective math priming task.
Project description:Gender differences in elementary school performance among immigrant children have not yet been well documented. This study examined how differences in parental involvement, child effort, and family characteristics and resources contribute to immigrant boys'-and girls' academic achievement from kindergarten through 5th-grade. The sample was drawn from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten cohort. Using a latent score growth model, this study found that parents' involvement at home benefited boys' reading and mathematics skills throughout all early elementary school years, but did not have the same benefit for girls. For both boys and girls, child effort in reading appears to be strongly linked to better reading and mathematics skills at kindergarten and to subsequent improvement between grades. The positive associations of parental involvement and child's effort with test scores were greater during earlier years than during later years for boys, whereas there was no difference in the association over time for girls.
Project description:Student academic achievement has been positively related to further development outcomes, such as the attainment of higher educational, employment, and socioeconomic aspirations. Among all the academic competences, mathematics has been identified as an essential skill in the field of international leadership as well as for those seeking positions in disciplines related to science, technology, and engineering. Given its positive consequences, studies have designed trainings to enhance children's mathematical skills. Additionally, the ability to regulate and control actions and cognitions, i.e., executive functions (EF), has been associated with school success, which has resulted in a strong effort to develop EF training programs to improve students' EF and academic achievement. The present study examined the efficacy of a school computer-based training composed of two components, namely, working memory and mathematics tasks. Among the advantages of using a computer-based training program is the ease with which it can be implemented in school settings and the ease by which the difficulty of the tasks can be adapted to fit the child's ability level. To test the effects of the training, children's cognitive skills (EF and IQ) and their school achievement (math and language grades and abilities) were evaluated. The results revealed a significant improvement in cognitive skills, such as non-verbal IQ and inhibition, and better school performance in math and reading among the children who participated in the training compared to those children who did not. Most of the improvements were related to training on WM tasks. These findings confirmed the efficacy of a computer-based training that combined WM and mathematics activities as part of the school routines based on the training's impact on children's academic competences and cognitive skills.
Project description:Metacognition, the ability to assess one's own knowledge, has been targeted as a critical learning mechanism in mathematics education. Yet the early childhood origins of metacognition have proven difficult to study. Using a novel nonverbal task and a comprehensive set of metacognitive measures, we provided the strongest evidence to date that young children are metacognitive. We showed that children as young as 5 years made metacognitive "bets" on their numerical discriminations in a wagering task. However, contrary to previous reports from adults, our results showed that children's metacognition is domain specific: Their metacognition in the numerical domain was unrelated to their metacognition in another domain (emotion discrimination). Moreover, children's metacognitive ability in only the numerical domain predicted their school-based mathematics knowledge. The data provide novel evidence that metacognition is a fundamental, domain-dependent cognitive ability in children. The findings have implications for theories of uncertainty and reveal new avenues for training metacognition in children.