Counting Procedural Skill and Conceptual Knowledge in Kindergarten as Predictors of Grade 1 Math Skills
Martin, Rebecca B.
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Though research has identified several possible factors that could be considered precursors of math difficulties in children, including cognitive, language, and number factors, there is not currently a consensus as to which are most critical. The present study focused on the role of two types of counting (procedural skill and conceptual knowledge) in kindergarten to predict math fluency, computation and applied reasoning performance in grade 1, which are direct antecedents of formal arithmetic. Their contribution was examined individually, and in the context of additional number (number identification and quantity discrimination), cognitive (working memory and phonological awareness) and behavior (behavioral inattention) factors. A step-by-step model building method showed that while both types of counting were predictive of each outcome, in the overall models the number factors accounted for variance over and above the counting predictors. Further, the number variables were the best predictors for each model, but secondary variables included verbal working memory and conceptual counting knowledge for fluency, phonological awareness and procedural counting for computation, and verbal and visuospaital working memory, phonological awareness, and procedural counting for the applied reasoning model. Therefore, counting procedural skill and conceptual knowledge should be considered when screening for early math difficulties, but their contributions should be considered along with other relevant number and cognitive factors for more robust prediction.