If you have a student struggling in math, a new study points to early learning as being a key factor in students’ predictor to later math success. This study found that students who struggled to understand basic math and number concepts in early grades were highly likely to make uncommon mistakes in their math studies later on in their educational career.
Conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota, researchers found that if students leave elementary school with incomplete or incorrect understanding of basic math concepts, most never overcome this challenge.
In fact, this study points to the idea that students who lack a fundamental understanding of math concepts and facts are rarely able to overcome their gap in knowledge. These students continue to incorporate their inaccurate math facts with newly acquired math skills, thus leading them to make basic computing mistakes.
“The nature of the errors that some of these children were making in 8th grade suggests some continued misconceptions about numbers,” said Michele Mazzocco, the study’s author and professor at the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Child Development.
The number errors are common among students in younger grades and most of the time are not a concern, Mazzocco said.
“And yet we have to keep our eyes open for those children whose difficulties are reflective of a deeper numerical or mathematical difficulty so that we can do something about that sooner and help children to develop strong concepts of what numbers mean,” Mazzocco said.
She hopes her study helps teachers better identify younger students who struggle to understand number concepts.