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More space, better mathematics: is space a powerful tool or a cornerstone for understanding arithmetic?

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posted on 30.04.2020, 11:24 by Krzysztof CiporaKrzysztof Cipora, Philipp Alexander Schroeder, Mojtaba Soltanlou, Hans-Christoph Nuerk
Tight cognitive links between space and number processing exist. Usually, Spatial-Numerical Associations (SNAs) are interpreted causally: spatial capabilities are a cornerstone of math skill. We question this seemingly ubiquitous assumption. After presenting SNA taxonomy, we show that only some SNAs correlate with math skill. These correlations are not conclusive: (1) Their directions vary (stronger SNA relates sometimes to better, sometimes to poorer skill), (2) the correlations might be explained by mediator variables (e.g., SNA tasks involve cognitive control or reasoning), (3) the hypothetical course of causality is not resolved: For instance, contrary to conventional theories, arithmetic skills can underlie performance in some SNA tasks. However, benefits of SNA trainings on math skills seem to reinforce the claim of primary SNA role. Nevertheless, tasks used in such trainings may tap cognitive operations required in arithmetic, but not SNA representations themselves. Therefore, using space is a powerful tool rather than a cornerstone for math.

Funding

DFG grant [NU 265/3-1]

LEAD Graduate School & Research Network [GSC1028], which is funded within the framework of the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments.

History

School

  • Science

Department

  • Mathematics Education Centre

Published in

Visualizing Mathematics: The Role of Spatial Reasoning in Mathematical Thought

Pages

77 - 116

Publisher

Springer

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG

Publisher statement

This book chapter was published in the book Visualizing Mathematics: The Role of Spatial Reasoning in Mathematical Thought [© Springer Nature Switzerland AG]. The definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-98767-5_4.

Publication date

2018-12-08

Copyright date

2018

ISBN

9783319987668; 9783319987675

Book series

Research in Mathematics Education

Language

en

Editor(s)

Kelly S. Mix, Michael T. Battista

Depositor

Dr Krzysztof Cipora. Deposit date: 28 April 2020