Persistent use of finger-counting is widely considered to be an immature counting strategy which is more prevalent and lasts longer in children with mathematical learning disabilities (MLD). Nonetheless, Geary, Hoard, Byrd-Craven and Desoto (2004) found that while MLD first-graders did effectively use more finger-counting than their typically developing (TD) peers on problems with sums under ten, they used it less frequently when facing problems such as 16+7. Instead, MLD children were guessing more often. This very interesting result regarding arithmetic strategies is based on data collected through observations and self-verbal reports, whose validity is debated in the literature (Lucidi & Thevenot, 2014). It can also be argued that the large problems used by Geary and colleagues were unfamiliar to children of this age and that this could have favored guessing. Therefore, the current study, based on behavioral indications only, aims at replicating and further understanding this finding among children solving arithmetic problems that are more appropriate to their age.
Fifty-eight TD and 24 MLD children were administered single-digit additions with sums up to or above ten at the middle of their second-grade (mean age = 7;6 years old). Results showed that whereas the MLD children did not differ from their peers in the overall frequency of finger-counting, they used it more frequently for small problems but less for large ones. Nevertheless, it was not found that they were guessing more often since their overt strategies accuracy did not differ from TD children. Conversely, when using finger-counting, they made more errors that their peers. In parallel, MLD children also struggled when having to quickly compare Arabic numbers. Thus, MLD children lower amount of finger-counting on large problems is rather interpreted as a consequence of their finger-counting inaccuracy and/or of their difficulty to assess the magnitude of the problems.
Evaluation par les pairs (peer reviewing)
Portée nationale / internationale
Nom de la manifestation
42nd annual meeting of the international group for the psychology of mathematics education