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Spatial complexity of character-based writing systems and arithmetic in primary school: a longitudinal study.

Rodic M, Tikhomirova T, Kolienko T, Malykh S, Bogdanova O, Zueva DY, Gynku EI, Wan S, Zhou X, Kovas Y - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: Previous research has consistently found an association between spatial and mathematical abilities.The longitudinal link from spatial ability to mathematics was found only in the Russian sample.The effect of second language acquisition on mathematics or other cognitive skills was negligible, although some effect of Chinese language on mathematical reasoning was suggested.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: InLab, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London London, UK ; Laboratory for Cognitive Investigations and Behavioral Genetics, Department of Psychology, Tomsk State University Tomsk, Russia.

ABSTRACT
Previous research has consistently found an association between spatial and mathematical abilities. We hypothesized that this link may partially explain the consistently observed advantage in mathematics demonstrated by East Asian children. Spatial complexity of the character-based writing systems may reflect or lead to a cognitive advantage relevant to mathematics. Seven hundered and twenty one 6-9-year old children from the UK and Russia were assessed on a battery of cognitive skills and arithmetic. The Russian children were recruited from specialist linguistic schools and divided into four different language groups, based on the second language they were learning (i.e., English, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese). The UK children attended regular schools and were not learning any second language. The testing took place twice across the school year, once at the beginning, before the start of the second language acquisition, and once at the end of the year. The study had two aims: (1) to test whether spatial ability predicts mathematical ability in 7-9 year-old children across the samples; (2) to test whether acquisition and usage of a character-based writing system leads to an advantage in performance in arithmetic and related cognitive tasks. The longitudinal link from spatial ability to mathematics was found only in the Russian sample. The effect of second language acquisition on mathematics or other cognitive skills was negligible, although some effect of Chinese language on mathematical reasoning was suggested. Overall, the findings suggest that although spatial ability is related to mathematics at this age, one academic year of exposure to spatially complex writing systems is not enough to provide a mathematical advantage. Other educational and socio-cultural factors might play a greater role in explaining individual and cross-cultural differences in arithmetic at this age.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Illustration of tasks used in the experiment, in the order of presentation.
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Figure 1: Illustration of tasks used in the experiment, in the order of presentation.

Mentions: The battery of tests included seven on-line (www.dweipsy.com/lattice) computerized tasks (see Figure 1) administered in a single session at schools. The testing lasted approximately 40 min. All tests started with practice trials and were always administered in the following order: Mental rotation, Choice reaction time, Non-symbolic comparison of numerosity, Symbolic number magnitude comparison, Simple subtraction, Number series and Raven’s progressive matrices. Children indicated their responses by pressing “Q” or “P” (or corresponding Russian keys) marked with the stickers on the keyboard. For Choice reaction time, Non-symbolic comparison of numerosity and Symbolic number magnitude comparison tasks accuracy and RT (milliseconds) were recorded. For the rest of the tasks, the dependent variable was correct minus incorrect responses, correcting for guessing. The tasks are described in the following section, grouped in five categories: (1) general skills and IQ; (2) spatial ability; (3) symbolic number understanding; (4) non-symbolic number sense; (5) operating with numbers (arithmetic), and numerical reasoning. Internal validity of each measure was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha analysis. The Cronbach’s alphas, reported below separately for the two samples, are based on the first wave of data collection. The results from the second wave were highly similar.


Spatial complexity of character-based writing systems and arithmetic in primary school: a longitudinal study.

Rodic M, Tikhomirova T, Kolienko T, Malykh S, Bogdanova O, Zueva DY, Gynku EI, Wan S, Zhou X, Kovas Y - Front Psychol (2015)

Illustration of tasks used in the experiment, in the order of presentation.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4374393&req=5

Figure 1: Illustration of tasks used in the experiment, in the order of presentation.
Mentions: The battery of tests included seven on-line (www.dweipsy.com/lattice) computerized tasks (see Figure 1) administered in a single session at schools. The testing lasted approximately 40 min. All tests started with practice trials and were always administered in the following order: Mental rotation, Choice reaction time, Non-symbolic comparison of numerosity, Symbolic number magnitude comparison, Simple subtraction, Number series and Raven’s progressive matrices. Children indicated their responses by pressing “Q” or “P” (or corresponding Russian keys) marked with the stickers on the keyboard. For Choice reaction time, Non-symbolic comparison of numerosity and Symbolic number magnitude comparison tasks accuracy and RT (milliseconds) were recorded. For the rest of the tasks, the dependent variable was correct minus incorrect responses, correcting for guessing. The tasks are described in the following section, grouped in five categories: (1) general skills and IQ; (2) spatial ability; (3) symbolic number understanding; (4) non-symbolic number sense; (5) operating with numbers (arithmetic), and numerical reasoning. Internal validity of each measure was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha analysis. The Cronbach’s alphas, reported below separately for the two samples, are based on the first wave of data collection. The results from the second wave were highly similar.

Bottom Line: Previous research has consistently found an association between spatial and mathematical abilities.The longitudinal link from spatial ability to mathematics was found only in the Russian sample.The effect of second language acquisition on mathematics or other cognitive skills was negligible, although some effect of Chinese language on mathematical reasoning was suggested.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: InLab, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London London, UK ; Laboratory for Cognitive Investigations and Behavioral Genetics, Department of Psychology, Tomsk State University Tomsk, Russia.

ABSTRACT
Previous research has consistently found an association between spatial and mathematical abilities. We hypothesized that this link may partially explain the consistently observed advantage in mathematics demonstrated by East Asian children. Spatial complexity of the character-based writing systems may reflect or lead to a cognitive advantage relevant to mathematics. Seven hundered and twenty one 6-9-year old children from the UK and Russia were assessed on a battery of cognitive skills and arithmetic. The Russian children were recruited from specialist linguistic schools and divided into four different language groups, based on the second language they were learning (i.e., English, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese). The UK children attended regular schools and were not learning any second language. The testing took place twice across the school year, once at the beginning, before the start of the second language acquisition, and once at the end of the year. The study had two aims: (1) to test whether spatial ability predicts mathematical ability in 7-9 year-old children across the samples; (2) to test whether acquisition and usage of a character-based writing system leads to an advantage in performance in arithmetic and related cognitive tasks. The longitudinal link from spatial ability to mathematics was found only in the Russian sample. The effect of second language acquisition on mathematics or other cognitive skills was negligible, although some effect of Chinese language on mathematical reasoning was suggested. Overall, the findings suggest that although spatial ability is related to mathematics at this age, one academic year of exposure to spatially complex writing systems is not enough to provide a mathematical advantage. Other educational and socio-cultural factors might play a greater role in explaining individual and cross-cultural differences in arithmetic at this age.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus