The Development and Assessment of Early Cardinal-Number Concepts

Arthur J. Baroody, Kelly S. Mix, Gamze Kartal, Meng Lung Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Number-recognition tasks, such as the how-many task, involve set-to-word mapping, and number-creation tasks, such as the give-n task, entail word-to-set mapping. The present study involved comparing sixty 3-year-olds’ performance on the two tasks with collections of one to three items over three time points about 3 weeks apart. Inconsistent with the sparse evidence indicating equivalent task performance, an omnibus test indicated that success differed significantly by task (and set size but not by time). A follow-up analysis indicated that the hypothesis that success emerges first on the how-many task was, in general, significantly superior to the hypothesis of simultaneous development. It further indicated the how-many-first hypothesis was superior to a give-n-first hypothesis for sets of three. A theoretical implication is that set-to-word mapping appears to develop before word-to-set mapping, especially in the case of three. A methodological implication is that the give-n task may underestimate a key aspect of children’s cardinal understanding of small numbers. Another is that the traditional give-n task, which requires checking an initial response by one-to-one counting, confounds pre-counting and counting competencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-195
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Numerical Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • assessment
  • cardinality development
  • early childhood
  • give-n
  • how many
  • subitizing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Applied Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'The Development and Assessment of Early Cardinal-Number Concepts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this