NumLit - Development of numeracy and literacy in children

This longitudinal study will help us understand the interrelations between numeracy and literacy and their precursor skills, aiming toward early identification and support of children with risk for learning disabilities.

The long-term goal of this project is to help understand why some children struggle with developing literacy and numeracy and to provide clues on how difficulties can be prevented or ameliorated (Illustration Photo: Colourbox.com)

Background

To learn to master numeracy and literacy is an essential part of human development. Unfortunately, previous research has two major flaws that have limited our understanding of their development:

  • First, despite clear knowledge that these two areas are highly related, they have most often been studied in isolation.
  • Secondly, studies of the two together have mainly focused on causes of comorbidity between reading and math disorders.

The diagnostic cut-off for these disorders are arbitrary and vary between studies, making it difficult to form a clear picture of what is involved in the early and later development of reading and math skills and what is common between them. Finally, most previous studies have used narrow definitions of literacy and numeracy, based on a few specific tests, rather than examining a wide range of relevant skills and their components.

This means that even when we have information about rates of development and interrelations, especially for literacy, there is little understanding of the underlying skills and how they may have dependent on earlier precursor abilities and skills.

About the Project

NumLit will consist in one large-scale multi-year longitudinal study, in which we will  trace  a cohort of children starting from the age of 5 (in kindergarten) and follow them up throughout primary and secondary school. The children will be examined on a large battery of literacy, numeracy, language and cognitive skills.

Kindergarten assessment will focus on foundation abilities and predictor skills, including general cognitive and language abilities that are likely to contribute to literacy and numeracy development.  In subsequent school years children will be tested on their emerging (and later consolidated) literacy and numeracy skills at increasingly demanding, age-appropriate levels that will then be traced back to the early precursors observed in kindergarten.

This will greatly contribute to our understanding of whether and how numeracy and literacy may be  causally related to each other, what other domain-general or domain-specific skills and abilities underlie them.

The long-term goal of this project is to help understand why some children struggle with developing literacy and numeracy and to provide clues on how difficulties can be prevented or ameliorated.

Funding

The project begins in 2017 with the preschool assessment using internal research funds from the Department of Special Needs Education.

Published Nov. 10, 2017 2:12 PM - Last modified Nov. 10, 2017 2:41 PM