Cognitive science in the field: A preschool intervention durably enhances intuitive but not formal mathematics

Moira Dillon, Harini Kannan, Joshua T. Dean, Elizabeth S. Spelke, Esther Duflo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Many poor children are underprepared for demanding primary school curricula. Research in cognitive science suggests that school achievement could be improved by preschool pedagogy in which numerate adults engage children's spontaneous, nonsymbolic mathematical concepts. To test this suggestion, we designed and evaluated a game-based preschool curriculum intended to exercise children's emerging skills in number and geometry. In a randomized field experiment with 1540 children (average age 4.9 years) in 214 Indian preschools, 4 months of math game play yielded marked and enduring improvement on the exercised intuitive abilities, relative to no-treatment and active control conditions. Math-trained children also showed immediate gains on symbolic mathematical skills but displayed no advantage in subsequent learning of the language and concepts of school mathematics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-55
Number of pages9
JournalScience
Volume357
Issue number6346
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 7 2017

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Cognitive Science
Mathematics
Curriculum
Mathematical Concepts
Aptitude
Teaching
Language
Learning
Exercise
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Cognitive science in the field : A preschool intervention durably enhances intuitive but not formal mathematics. / Dillon, Moira; Kannan, Harini; Dean, Joshua T.; Spelke, Elizabeth S.; Duflo, Esther.

In: Science, Vol. 357, No. 6346, 07.07.2017, p. 47-55.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Dillon, Moira ; Kannan, Harini ; Dean, Joshua T. ; Spelke, Elizabeth S. ; Duflo, Esther. / Cognitive science in the field : A preschool intervention durably enhances intuitive but not formal mathematics. In: Science. 2017 ; Vol. 357, No. 6346. pp. 47-55.
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