First-graders' knowledge of multiplicative reasoning before formal instruction in this domain
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Number of pages
SourceContemporary Educational Psychology, 39, 1, (2014), pp. 59-73
Article / Letter to editor
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CLST - Centre for Language and Speech Technology
Contemporary Educational Psychology
SubjectE-health research through speech technology and gaming; Language and Speech, Learning and Therapy; niet-RU-publicaties
Our study investigated children’s knowledge of multiplicative reasoning (multiplication and division) at the end of Grade 1, just before the start of formal instruction on multiplicative reasoning in Grade 2. A large sample of children (N = 1176) was assessed in a relatively formal test setting, using an online test with 28 multiplicative problems of different types. On average, the children correctly answered more than half (58%) of the problems, including several bare number problems. This indicates that before formal instruction on multiplicative reasoning, children already have a considerable amount of knowledge in this domain, which teachers can build on when teaching them formal multiplication and division. Using analysis of variance and cross-classified multilevel regression analysis, we identified several predictors of children’s pre-instructional multiplicative knowledge. With respect to the characteristics of the multiplicative problems, we found that the problems were easiest to solve when they included a picture involving countable objects, and when the multiplicative situation was of the equal groups semantic structure (e.g., 3 boxes of 4 cookies). Regarding student characteristics, pre-instructional multiplicative knowledge was higher for children with higher-educated parents. Finally, the mathematics textbook used in school appeared to have influenced children’s pre-instructional multiplicative knowledge.
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