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Low performance on mathematical tasks in preschoolers: the importance of domain-general and domain-specific abilities

Costa, HM; Nicholson, B; Donlan, C; Van Herwegen, J; (2018) Low performance on mathematical tasks in preschoolers: the importance of domain-general and domain-specific abilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research , 62 (4) pp. 292-302. 10.1111/jir.12465.

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Abstract

Background: Different domain‐specific and domain‐general cognitive precursors play a key role in the development of mathematical abilities. The contribution of these domains to mathematical ability changes during development. Primary school‐aged children who show mathematical difficulties form a heterogeneous group, but it is not clear whether this also holds for preschool low achievers (LAs) and how domain‐specific and domain‐general abilities contribute to mathematical difficulties at a young age. The aim of this study was to explore the cognitive characteristics of a sample of preschool LAs and identify sub‐types of LAs. Methods: 81 children were identified as LAs from 283 preschoolers aged 3 to 5 years old and were assessed on a number of domain‐general and domain‐specific tasks. Results: Cluster analysis revealed four subgroups of LAs in mathematics: (1) a weak processing sub‐type; (2) a general mathematical LAs sub‐type; (3) a mixed abilities sub‐type; and (4) a visuo‐spatial deficit sub‐type. Whilst two of the groups showed specific domain‐general difficulties, none showed only domain‐specific difficulties. Conclusions: Current findings suggest that preschool LAs constitute a heterogeneous group and stress the importance of domain‐general factors for the development of mathematical abilities during the preschool years.

Type: Article
Title: Low performance on mathematical tasks in preschoolers: the importance of domain-general and domain-specific abilities
DOI: 10.1111/jir.12465
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1111/jir.12465
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: domain‐general abilities, domain‐specific abilities, low performing, mathematics, preschoolers, sub‐types
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10052260
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