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Long-term relevance and interrelation of symbolic and non-symbolic abilities in mathematical-numerical development: evidence from large-scale assessment data
journal contributionposted on 25.02.2021, 13:47 by David Braeuning, Caroline Hornung, Danielle Hoffmann, Katharina Lambert, Sonja Ugen, Antoine Fischbach, Christine Schiltz, Nicolas Hübner, Benjamin Nagengast, Korbinian MoellerKorbinian Moeller
There is consistent evidence that symbolic abilities predict later mathematical achievement, whereas findings for non-symbolic abilities are more inconsistent. However, in previous research non-symbolic abilities were primarily considered as acuity of the approximate number system. In this study, we conceptualized symbolic and non-symbolic abilities as reflecting the development from operating with and mastery of concrete non-symbolic towards abstract symbolic-digital (Arabic digits) numerical presentation formats across a range of numerical tasks. We considered data from a population-based mathematical assessment (N = 3940) which followed students from grade 1 (Mage = 6;4 years) to grade 3. Confirmatory factor analysis substantiated the differentiation between symbolic and non-symbolic numerical abilities and indicated that both abilities were highly correlated, and each predicted later mathematical achievement significantly. As such, this study corroborated the long-term relevance of both numerical abilities at school-entry. Furthermore, the results extend previous experimental research by an ecologically valid developmental approach.
- Mathematics Education Centre