Counting Practice with Pictures, but not Objects, Improves Children’s Understanding of Cardinality

Lori PetersenUniversity of Chicago
Nicole McNeilUniversity of Notre Dame
Alice TollaksenUniversity of Notre Dame
Alexander BoehmUniversity of Notre Dame
Casey HallUniversity of Notre Dame
Cristina CarrazzaUniversity of Notre Dame
Brianna DevlinUniversity of Notre Dame

Abstract

When counting, the final word used to tag the final item in a set represents the cardinality, or total number, of the set. Understanding of this concept serves as a foundation for children’s basic mathematical skills. However, little is known about how the early learning environment can be structured to help children understand this important concept. The current study examined the effects of the representational status of to-be-counted items on preschoolers’ understanding of cardinality. Children (M age = 3 years, 6 months) were randomly assigned to receive counting practice with either physical objects or pictures over five practice sessions. Children’s counting skill and understanding of cardinality were assessed at pretest and posttest. Results revealed that only children in the picture condition increased their understanding of cardinality from pretest to posttest. These results suggest that picture books are better than physical objects at supporting children’s understanding of cardinality.

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Counting Practice with Pictures, but not Objects, Improves Children’s Understanding of Cardinality (229 KB)



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