Children's patterns of reasoning about reading and addition concepts

Farrington-Flint, Lee; Canobi, Katherine H.; Wood, Clare and Faulkner, Dorothy (2010). Children's patterns of reasoning about reading and addition concepts. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 28(2) pp. 427–448.



Children's reasoning was examined within two educational contexts (word reading and addition) so as to understand the factors that contribute to relational reasoning in the two domains. Sixty-seven 5- to 7-year-olds were given a series of related words to read or single-digit addition items to solve (interspersed with unrelated items). The frequency, accuracy, and response times of children's self-reports on the conceptually related items provided a measure of relational reasoning, while performance on the unrelated addition and reading items provided a measure of procedural skill. The results indicated that the children's ability to use conceptual relations to solve both reading and addition problems enhanced speed and accuracy levels, increased with age, and was related to procedural skill. However, regression analyses revealed that domain-specific competencies can best explain the use of conceptual relations in both reading and addition. Moreover, a cluster analysis revealed that children differ according to the academic domain in which they first apply conceptual relations and these differences are related to individual variation in their procedural skills within these particular domains. These results highlight the developmental significance of relational reasoning in the context of reading and addition and underscore the importance of concept-procedure links in explaining children's literacy and arithmetical development.

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