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.