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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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Inspiring Inquiry: Improving Numerical Estimation of Head Start Children

Geetha B. Ramani, Carnegie Mellon University
Robert S. Siegler, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract: Young children from low-income areas often have little knowledge about numerical magnitudes. Board games may help promote the development of understanding of numerical magnitudes, because they provide multiple cues to the relative magnitudes of numbers: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic cues. In a previous study with 4-year-olds from low-income areas, we found that after playing a number-based board game, children's numerical estimation improved dramatically.

The current research investigates generalization and stability of learning over time following board game play. Preschoolers from Head Start played either a number-based board game or a color-based version of the game four times over a two week period. During the first and last session, and 2 months later, children were given a number line estimation task and a numerical magnitude comparison task to assess generalization.

Preliminary analyses (n= 80) show that the estimates of children who played the number-based game became more linear from pretest to posttest (mean R2 = .14 to R2 = .44), t (43) =7.71, p < .001. Children's performance on the magnitude comparison task also improved (73% to 86% correct), t (43)=7.18, p<.001. Control group children did not improve on either measure.

At the conference, data from the entire sample of 120 children will be available, as will data on the stability over time of the gains of children in the experimental group. These data should increase our understanding of the potential benefits of board games to low-income children.