New measures of number line estimation performance reveal children's ordinal understanding of numbers

Yun-Chen CHAN, Michèle M. M. MAZZOCCO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Children's performance on the number line estimation task, often measured by the percentage of absolute error, predicts their later mathematics achievement. This task may also reveal (a) children's ordinal understanding of the target numbers in relation to each other and the benchmarks (e.g., endpoints, midpoint) and (b) the ordinal skills that are a necessary precursor to children's ability to understand the interval nature of a number line as measured by percentage of absolute error. Using data from 104 U.S. kindergartners, we measured whether children's estimates were correctly sequenced across trials and correctly positioned relative to given benchmarks within trials at two time points. For both time points, we found that each ordinal error measure revealed a distinct pattern of data distribution, providing opportunities to tap into different aspects of children's ordinal understanding. Furthermore, children who made fewer ordinal errors scored higher on the Test of Early Mathematics Ability and showed greater improvement on their interval understanding of numbers as reflected by a larger reduction of percentage of absolute error from Time 1 to Time 2. The findings suggest that our number line measures reveal individual differences in children's ordinal understanding of numbers, and that such understanding may be a precursor to their interval understanding and later mathematics performance. Copyright © 2024 The Author(s).

Original languageEnglish
Article number105965
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume245
Early online dateMay 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - May 2024

Citation

Chan, J. Y.-C., & Mazzocco, M. M. M. (2024). New measures of number line estimation performance reveal children's ordinal understanding of numbers. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 245, Article 105965. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2024.105965

Keywords

  • Number ordering
  • Number line
  • Numerical sequence
  • Math cognition
  • Early numeracy

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