The Estimation of Set Size by Potentially Gifted Kindergarten-Age Children

Arthur J. Baroody, Mary R. Gatzke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study explored young children's ability to estimate set sizes and use reference points such as 10. Eighteen children in a preschool-kindergarten program for the potentially gifted were asked to estimate the number of dots in a set (range 3 to 35); to gauge whether a set of dots was larger or smaller than a stated reference point of 5, 10, or 20; and to judge where a set fit in regard to two given reference points. With sets of 8, most estimates were within 25% of the actual value; with sets of 15 or larger, most estimates were not. A majority of children were successful on the task with a single reference point; performance varied on the task with two reference points. An error analysis indicated that many children could accurately place sets somewhat smaller than a reference point but had difficulty placing sets somewhat larger than a reference point. These results suggest that the children had not constructed accurate perceptual anchors but appeared to have an overexaggerated mental image of 5, 10, and 20.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-68
Number of pages10
JournalJournal for Research in Mathematics Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1991


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