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Title: Beyond number sense : contributions of domain-general processes to the development of numeracy in early childhood
Author: Merkley, Rebecca
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 5999
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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A large proportion of recent research on the development of numerical cognition has focused on the foundational role of approximate number sense, yet number sense alone cannot fully explain how young children acquire numeracy skills. This thesis aims to investigate how other domain-specific processes and domain-general cognitive processes relate to numeracy in early childhood and whether they play a role in learning about mathematics. The experiments presented in Chapter 2 explored how domain-general processes relate to young children's attention to discrete number in non-symbolic representations through a correlational approach. Results supported the role for inhibitory control in selecting numerosity as the relevant stimulus dimension. In order to investigate causal relationships in emerging maths performance, Chapter 3 reports a cognitive training study aimed at contrasting transfer effects of domain-general and domain-specific training in pre- schoolers. Findings suggested caution in interpreting published transfer effects without the highest level of control. The latter chapters targeted learning mechanisms by tackling a specific process in mathematical cognition: acquiring the meaning of numerical symbols. Specifically, the experiments presented in Chapter 4 employed an artificial learning paradigm to test factors influencing adults' and children's formation of novel symbolic numerical representations. Congruency between discrete and continuous non-symbolic quantity influenced novel representations and numerical order information facilitated learning, especially in children. In order to explore symbolic representations of real numbers, Chapter 5 focuses on associations between different representational formats of real numbers in young children and how this relates to both domain-specific and domain-general factors. Children had stronger mappings between symbols and precise non-symbolic representations for numbers smaller than four, than between larger numbers and approximate non-symbolic representations. Taken together, results from the experiments presented in this thesis highlight the need to incorporate factors beyond number sense in theories of numeracy development.
Supervisor: Scerif, Gaia Sponsor: Clarendon Fund ; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available