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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02336

Numerical and Non-Numerical Predictors of First Graders’ Number-Line Estimation Ability

  • 1Georgetown University, United States

Children’s ability to map numbers into a spatial context has been shown to be a powerful predictor of math performance. Here, we investigate how 3 types of cognitive abilities – approximate number processing ability, symbolic number processing ability, and non-numerical cognitive abilities – predict 0-100 number-line estimation performance in first graders. While each type of measure predicts number-line performance when considered individually, when considered together, only symbolic number comparison and non-verbal reasoning predicted unique variance in number-line estimation. Moreover, the relation between symbolic number comparison and number-line ability was stronger for male students than for female students, suggesting potential gender differences in the way boys and girls accomplish mapping numbers into space. These results suggest that number-line estimation ability is largely reflective of the precision with which symbolic magnitudes are represented (at least among boys). Our findings therefore suggest that promoting children’s understanding of symbolic, rather than non-symbolic, numerical magnitudes may help children learn better from number-lines in the classroom.

Keywords: Number-line estimation, spatial processing, Early numeracy, gender differences, Number symbols

Received: 16 Aug 2018; Accepted: 07 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Sharlene D. Newman, Indiana University Bloomington, United States

Reviewed by:

Luis J. Fuentes, University of Murcia, Spain
Koen Luwel, KU Leuven, Belgium  

Copyright: © 2018 Daker and Lyons. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Ian M. Lyons, Georgetown University, Washington, United States, ian.lyons@georgetown.edu