-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
WEDNESDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- A poor "gut sense" of
numbers may be a sign of a math learning disability, a new study
Researchers had 71 ninth graders enrolled in a 10-year study of
math achievement perform tasks that measured their innate sense of
numbers, such as asking them to guess how many dots were on a page
without having time to actually count them.
Researchers also divided the students into four groups: those
shown to have a math learning disability over the course of the
decade-long study, those ranked below average, average or above
average in math achievement.
Students who had a math learning disability did significantly
worse at estimating how many dots were on the page.
"Some children have a remarkably imprecise intuitive sense of numbers, and we believe these children have math learning disability, at least in part, due to deficits in this intuitive type of number sense," Michele Mazzocco, director of the Math Skills Development Project at Kennedy Krieger Institute, said in a news release from the institute.
The study is published in the June 17 issue of
Although they do well in other subjects, up to 14 percent of
school-aged children have continuing trouble with math. There can
be multiple causes, including issues with spatial reasoning,
working memory or "number sense," which includes the ability to
"A key message for parents and teachers is that children vary in the precision of their intuitive sense of numbers. We might take for granted that every child perceives numbers with roughly comparable precision, but this assumption would be false. Some students may need more practice, or different kinds of practice, to develop this number sense," noted Mazzocco.
"At the same time, if a child is struggling with mathematics at school, we should not assume that the child's difficulty is tied to a poor number sense; this is just one possibility," she added.
The Learning Disabilities Association of America provides more
math learning disability.
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