The Psychophysical Assessment of Number-sense Acuity

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

First, this project will assess to what extent differences in intuitive number-sense precision across individuals predicts school mathematics achievement. Second, it will develop a software package that will use a game-like format to determine the finest numerical ratio a subject can discriminate. Third, this software will be shared and tested in major research laboratories throughout the country, and the final version of the software will be shared freely with the educational and psychological research communities to support future research.

Setting: 

Both laboratory and school research settings across the country with research teams acting as part of an advisory board. These teams will use the PANA software within their own research with students ranging from approximately 3 years of age to 85 years of age.

Research Design: 

This is a longitudinal, cross-sectional, and comparative study designed to generate descriptive and associative/correlational evidence. This project collects original data using assessments of learning, achievement tests, and survey research [questionnaire and online]. This project will create and develop PANAmath, a standardized assessment of an individual’s number-sense precision, to be used across the lifespan. This measure involves a simple discrimination task appropriate for all ages and psychophysical modeling of performance to determine the precision of an individual’s number sense. Correlation analyses of number sense precision (i.e., Weber fraction) and performance in school mathematics (e.g., Math SAT) while controlling for other relevant performance and cognitive variables (e.g., Verbal SAT). These will include measures taken at the same time point (e.g., cross-sectional), measurements taken at two different time points (e.g., Weber fraction at age 45 years correlated with past SAT scores) and longitudinal work (e.g., measurement of Weber fraction at age 3 years correlated with TEMA performance at age 5 years).

Findings: 

Current Weber fraction significantly correlates with past SAT math scores.

Other Products: 

The PANAmath software will be made freely available to all as both a computer program to run on your own computer, a web-based program to take online, and a card-based procedure requiring no computer.