The Role of Language in Children's Acquisition of Number Concepts

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

This study explores the relationship between symbolic and non-symbolic in the domain of numerical thought. A series of studies assess language acquisition (number words and counting) and development of number concepts in hearing and deaf/hard-of-hearing (DHH) preschoolers. The educational component of the project brings together early childhood educators, undergraduates, and researchers to consider the translation between cognitive development research and educational practice.

Setting: 

Studies are carried out at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, a very socially and economically diverse mid-size city.

Research Design: 

This project has a longitudinal, cross-sectional, and comparative research design and will generate evidence that is associative/correlational [quasi-experimental] and causal [quasi-experimental and statistical modeling]. Original data are being collected on Hearing and DHH children (ages 2 to 8) years) using school records, observation, and tasks designed for the purposes of these studies.

Levels of counting proficiency will be compared in DHH vs. hearing children. This project uses a set of brief number assessments developed by or adapted from the following: Give-N (Wynn, 1990); Fast Cards (LeCorre & Carey, 2007); Who Has More (Halberda & Feigenson, 2008); Manual Search (adapted from Feigenson & Carey, 2006); Caterpillar Game (adapted from Hannula & Lehtinen, 2005); Focus on Sets (original tasks).

Findings: 

In an earlier pilot project we were able to integrate a current prototype of the proposed intervention with the Virtual Math Teams environment. We have run a series of successful research studies in classroom contexts with a variety of versions of the support intervention that have yielded interesting findings. Analysis of recent studies is in progress.