Study Finds Core Cause of Math Disability
We’re having a Theo Huxtable moment (re: season 6, episode 5), following the Friday release of a Baltimore-based study that pinpoints core cognitive differences between students who sometimes struggle with math and those who have dyscalculia, a severe mathematical learning disability.
The new, decade long study conducted by the Kennedy Krieger Institute and published Friday in the Child Development journal, finds that having a poor “gut sense” of numbers can lead to dyscalculia. This inaccurate number sense is just one cause of math learning disabilities, according to the study led by Dr. Michele Mazzocco of the Baltimore Institute.
Mazzocco — also a psychiatry and behavioral sciences and education professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine — tracked 249 kindergarteners in Baltimore public schools in 1997. Johns Hopkins colleagues Lisa Feigenson and Justin P. Halberda later joined the project.
The team followed the Baltimore students’ math performance through 9th grade and, from grades 6 to 9, tested specific math-related abilities, such as timed computation and decomposition — i.e. the ability to deduce which numbers in a group add up to a target number. The researchers also assessed students’ general cognitive skills, such as working memory, visual perception and symbol decoding.
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