The Role of the Number-After Rule in the Invention of Computational Shortcuts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

How children invent a counting-on from the larger addend (COL) strategy is unclear. An effort to understand how a child classified as mentally handicapped devised this strategy has suggested a plausible developmental mechanism. The child appeared to master the n + 1 combinations just before the invention of counting-on. This suggests he used a number-after rale for n+1 combinations as a scaffold for constructing a counting-on strategy. (For example, if the sum of 7+1 is the number after seven in the count sequence, then 7+2 must be two numbers after seven in the count sequence—i.e., “Eight, nine.”) Moreover, the child appeared to master the 1+n combinations just before he recognized that addend order was irrelevant and started counting-on from the larger of the addends. This suggests that a general number-after rule (the sum of either n + 1 or 1+n combinations is the number after n) may provide a basis for recognizing that order can be overlooked for any combination. Follow-up analyses of nine other mentally handicapped children and five kindergartners in the normal IQ range confirmed that the number-after rale for n+1 combinations develops before and may provide a basis for counting-on. The follow-up data indicated that a generalized number- after rule for 1+n combinations provides one (but not the only) way that children discover the computational shortcut of disregarding addend order.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-219
Number of pages31
JournalCognition and Instruction
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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