First and Second Graders Successfully Reason About Ratios With Both Dot Arrays and Arabic Numerals
We thank Luis Rosario, Mikie Sakanaka, Joseph Dembik, Lauren Paulson, I'Mani Sellers and Yvette Almaguer for help with data collection, and Nicholas K DeWind and Stephanie Bugden for helpful discussions about the manuscript. We also thank the parents and after school programs that participated in this research. The research reported here was supported by an R01 HD079106 award to Elizabeth M. Brannon, a National Science Foundation Division of Research on Learning Award #1660973 to Elizabeth M. Brannon, and a Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award F31 HD095579-01 to Emily Szkudlarek.
Children struggle with exact, symbolic ratio reasoning, but prior research demonstrates children show surprising intuition when making approximate, nonsymbolic ratio judgments. In the current experiment, eighty-five 6- to 8-year-old children made approximate ratio judgments with dot arrays and numerals. Children were adept at approximate ratio reasoning in both formats and improved with age. Children who engaged in the nonsymbolic task first performed better on the symbolic task compared to children tested in the reverse order, suggesting that nonsymbolic ratio reasoning may function as a scaffold for symbolic ratio reasoning. Nonsymbolic ratio reasoning mediated the relation between children’s numerosity comparison performance and symbolic mathematics performance in the domain of probabilities, but numerosity comparison performance explained significant unique variance in general numeration skills.
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