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The Role of Learning the Japanese Kuku Multiplication Chant in Simple Arithmetic Operations

Author(s): Hiroyasu Ito | Namiko Kubo-Kawai | Nobuo Masataka

Journal: Creative Education
ISSN 2151-4755

Volume: 02;
Issue: 03;
Start page: 276;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Kuku | Mathematics | Arithmetic Operation | Number Sense | Cognitive Load Theory

In Japanese primary schools, children are required to learn the kuku (“nine nines”) method of multiplication during the formal course of mathematics. When learning, they are taught to recite it as though reciting a Chinese poem or chanting. In the present study, we undertook an experiment designed to examine the role of learing the Japanese kuku multiplication chant in arithmetic operations by requiring the participants to solve the three types of simple arithmetic problems. In each problem presentation, an equation of simple addition (e.g., 3 (three) added to 4 (four) makes 7 (seven)), of simple multiplication (e.g., 3 (three) multiplied by 4 (four) is 12 (twelve)), or of kuku (e.g., 3 (three) 4 (fours) 12 (twelve)) was auditorily presented with either the addend or augend in the addition, or the multiplicand or multiplier in the multiplication or kuku always being acoustically masked by peep sounds so that the participants did not hear the numbers masked. Comparison of the latency to their answer across the three types of problems revealed that as a consequence of learning kuku, a learner could produce the answers for the arithmetic multiplication problems as well as the answers for the kuku problems relatively more easily as compared to the arithmetic addition problems. Implications of the results are argued with reference to the cognitive load theory, a theory of learning and education which underwent substantial development and expansion during last two decades.
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