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Effects of Daily Practice on Subitizing, Visual Counting,and Basic Arithmetic Skills

Author(s): Burkhart Fischer, Dipl. Phys. | Andrea K├Ângeter, Dipl. Biol. | Klaus Hartnegg, Dipl. Phys.

Journal: Optometry & Vision Development
ISSN 1557-4113

Volume: 39;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 30;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: subitizing | visual number counting | dyscalculia

ABSTRACTBackground: The ability of subitizing andcounting undergoes a long lasting development untilthe age of 17 years. Large proportions of children withproblems in acquiring basic arithmetic skills exhibitdevelopmental deficits in the correctness and speed ofthis special visual capacity. The first study describedin this paper tests the possibility that subitizingand visual counting can be improved by dailypractice. The second study described in this papershows that basic arithmetic skill were significantlyimproved in a trained as compared to an untrainedcontrol group.Methods: Altogether, 74 subjects (age 7 to13 y) participated in the first study. They were givena special task for daily practice during a period of21 days. Corresponding to the state of the subjectunder training the difficulty of the task was adapted.For the second study 21 children (aged 7.5 to 9 y),were recruited from a local school. All children hadproblems in basic mathematics and failed the test ofsubitizing. The training group (N=10) was given therequired training, while the waiting group (N=11)had to wait. A standard test of basic mathematics (DEMAT) was used to measure basic arithmetic skillsbefore and after the training.Results: The analysis of the pre-post trainingdata revealed that subitizing and counting weresignificantly improved in about 85% of the subjects:they reached the normal range of the control subjects(N=133) of the same age. The second study shows thatbasic arithmetic skills were significantly improved in atrained as compared to an untrained control group.Conclusion: Since the result of the second studyof this paper shows a transfer from improvementsin subitizing to improvements of basic arithmeticskills one may conclude that the basic visualcapacity of subitizing and visual number countingcontributes to the problem encountered by childrenwith dyscalculia.
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