Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 


First grade math skills set foundation for later math ability

NIH funded study identifies fundamental skills needed for math functioning in adult life

Children who failed to acquire a basic math skill in first grade scored far behind their peers by seventh grade on a test of the mathematical abilities needed to function in adult life, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The basic math skill, number system knowledge, is the ability to relate a quantity to the numerical symbol that represents it, and to manipulate quantities and make calculations. This skill is the basis for all other mathematics abilities, including those necessary for functioning as an adult member of society, a concept called numeracy.

The researchers reported that early efforts to help children overcome difficulty in acquiring number system knowledge could have significant long-term benefits. They noted that more than 20 percent of U.S. adults do not have the eighth grade math skills needed to function in the workplace.

"An early grasp of quantities and numbers appears to be the foundation on which we build more complex understandings of numbers and calculations," said Kathy Mann Koepke, Ph.D., director of the Mathematics and Science Cognition and Learning: Development and Disorders Program at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the NIH institute that sponsored the research. "Given the national priority on education in science, technology, engineering and math fields, it is crucial for us to understand how children become adept at math and what interventions can help those who struggle to build these skills."

Senior author David C. Geary, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri, Columbia, conducted the research with colleagues Mary K. Hoard, Ph.D., and Lara Nugent, and with Drew H. Bailey, Ph.D., of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. The study appears online in PLoS One.

These results are part of a long-term study of children in the Columbia, Mo., school system. Initially, first graders from 12 elementary schools were evaluated on their number system knowledge. Number system knowledge encompasses several core principles:

Numbers represent different magnitudes (five is bigger than four).

Number relationships stay the same, even though numbers may vary. For example, the difference between 1 and 2 is the same as the difference between 30 and 31.

Quantities (for example, three stars) can be represented by symbolic figures (the numeral 3).

Numbers can be broken into component parts (5 is made up of 2 and 3 or 1 and 4).

The researchers also evaluated such cognitive skills as memory, attention span, and general intelligence.

The researchers found that by seventh grade, children who had the lowest scores on an assessment of number system knowledge in first grade lagged behind their peers. They noted that these differences in numeracy between the two groups were not related to intelligence, language skills or the method students used to make their computations.

For the testing at age 13, 180 of the students took timed assessments that included multiple-digit addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems; word problems; and comparisons and computations with fractions. Previous studies have shown that these tests evaluate functional numeracy¡ªskills that adults need to join and succeed in the workplace. This might include the limited understanding of algebra needed to make change such as being able to provide an answer to a question such as: "If an item costs $1.40 and you give the clerk $2, how many quarters and how many dimes should you get back?" Other aspects of functional numeracy include the ability to manipulate fractions, as when doubling the ingredients in a recipe (for example, adding 1 ¨ö cups water when doubling a recipe that calls for ¨ú cups water) or finding the center of a wall when wanting to center a painting or a shelf.

The researchers' analysis showed that a low score on the assessment of number system knowledge in first grade significantly increased a student's risk of getting a low functional numeracy score as a teenager.

The researchers examined learning and found that first graders with the lowest scores also had the slowest growth in number system knowledge throughout that school year. Starting with poor number knowledge can put children so far behind that they never catch up, the researchers said.

"These findings are especially valuable for bringing attention to the idea that numeracy early in life has profound effects not only for the individual, but also for the society that individual works and lives in," Dr. Mann Koepke said.

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute's website at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

Robert Bock | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht Discovering Customers’ Hidden Needs
15.07.2015 | Siemens AG

nachricht Pre-lecture diagrams help students take better notes, learn more
10.06.2015 | Washington University in St. Louis

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Chemie steuert Magnetismus

Magnete sind aus dem Physikunterricht gut bekannt, im Fach Chemie werden sie dagegen nicht behandelt. Und doch ist es ein chemisches Verfahren, mit dem es Forschern am Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) gelungen ist, die magnetischen Eigenschaften von Ferromagneten zu steuern. Während physikalische Verfahren zwar die Ausrichtung des Magnetfeldes beeinflussen können, steuert hier das chemische Verfahren den Magnetismus des Materials selbst. Das genutzte Prinzip ist dabei dem Konzept des Lithium-Ionen-Akkus ähnlich. (DOI: 10.002/adma-201305932)

Über physikalische Effekte gibt es durchaus Möglichkeiten, Magnete zu beeinflussen. Standard-Methoden nutzen etwa eine elektromagnetische Spule, die durch...

Im Focus: Prüfung pressgehärteter Karosseriebauteile: Prozessintegriert, zuverlässig und sekundenschnell

Für den Anwender ist die zerstörungsfreie Werkstoffprüfung ein effektives Mittel, um schnell eine sichere Aussage über die Qualität seines Produktes bereits während des Fertigungsprozesses zu gewinnen. Die zerstörungsfreie Prüfung (ZfP) stellt insbesondere für die Herstellung von sicherheitsrelevanten Bauteilen, z. B. die B-Säule eines Autos, eine essentielle Qualitätssicherungsmaßnahme dar, da fehlerhafte Materialeigenschaften im Endprodukt schnell zum Versagen führen können. Mit der ZfP wird die Qualität eines Werkstücks getestet, ohne das Material selbst zu beschädigen oder die Oberfläche zu verändern.

Das Fraunhofer IZFP präsentiert auf der diesjährigen Blechexpo in Stuttgart ein Exponat zur »Zerstörungsfreien Prüfung pressgehärteter Karosseriebauteile mit...

Im Focus: Neue Methode erleichtert Forschung an Brennstoffzellen-Katalysatoren

Die Reinigung von Autoabgasen ist eines der bekanntesten katalytischen Verfahren. Doch nahezu die gesamte chemische Industrie basiert auf katalytischen Reaktionen. Das Katalysatordesign spielt daher eine Schlüsselrolle bei der Verbesserung vieler Prozesse. Ein internationales Team von Wissenschaftlern hat nun ein Konzept vorgestellt, das die geometrischen und die Adsorptionseigenschaften elegant miteinander in Beziehung setzt. Die Leistungsfähigkeit ihrer Methode zeigten sie am Beispiel eines neu entwickelten Platin-Katalysators für Brennstoffzellen.

Wasserstoff wäre ein idealer Energieträger: Überschüssige Windenergie könnte Wasser in seine Elemente zerlegen, mit dem Wasserstoff ließen sich höchst...

Im Focus: Reliable in-line inspections of high-strength automotive body parts within seconds

Nondestructive material testing (NDT) is a fast and effective way to analyze the quality of a product during the manufacturing process. Because defective materials can lead to malfunctioning finished products, NDT is an essential quality assurance measure, especially in the manufacture of safety-critical components such as automotive B-pillars. NDT examines the quality without damaging the component or modifying the surface of the material. At this year's Blechexpo trade fair in Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IZFP will have an exhibit that demonstrates the nondestructive testing of high-strength automotive body parts using 3MA. The measurement results are available in a matter of seconds.

To minimize vehicle weight and fuel consumption while providing the highest level of crash safety, automotive bodies are reinforced with elements made from...

Im Focus: Weltrekord am TRIGA Mainz: 20.000 Pulse in 50 Jahren

Forschungsreaktor hat Anfang Oktober einen neuen Meilenstein erreicht

Der Forschungsreaktor TRIGA an der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz (JGU) hat zwei Monate nach den Feierlichkeiten zu seinem 50-jährigen Bestehen einen...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>



im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics

World Health Summit 2015: Pressekonferenz und Eröffnung

09.10.2015 | Veranstaltungen

Bestäuber ohne Lobby? Tagung beleuchtet Wildbienen als sensible Einzelkämpfer

09.10.2015 | Veranstaltungen

Wasserstoff-Speicher als Wegbereiter für die Energiewende

08.10.2015 | Veranstaltungen

Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Siemens mit dem Digital Enterprise auf dem Weg zu Industrie 4.0

09.10.2015 | Messenachrichten

Energieautarke Fernwirkeinheit ermöglicht Überwachung von Anlagen per Mobilfunk

09.10.2015 | Messenachrichten

Biogene Kantinentabletts auf dem Prüfstand

09.10.2015 | Innovative Produkte