An investigation of counting and the role it plays in problem solving by beginning kindergarteners

The purpose of this study was to assess beginning kindergartener's ability to solve problems dealing with beginning number concepts; to identify counting behaviors of children during problem solving and to identify factors that influence the success rate of problem solving. Thirty children, ranging in age from four years and eleven months to six years and one month were randomly selected from two kindergarten classes at Superior Street School, a Los Angeles City School. Each subject was given an individually-administered assessment interview with physical objects. Items were scored on correctness of response, and on physical behaviors during the counting process. The t test for uncorrelated data was used to test the significance of difference between groups differentiated by age, sex, and preschool experience. The Pearson product moment correlation coefficient was used to analyze the relationship between rote counting ability and problem solving ability. Frequencies of counting behaviors and strategies were tabulated and analyzed. Findings showed that there is a statistically significant relationship between both age and rote counting ability and problem solving ability. No significant relationship between either sex or preschool experience and problem solving ability was found. There were several physical behaviors noted during problem solving and counting activities. Most children move objects to be counted one at a time while verbalizing the number names. About half the problems solved were solved by observable counting, while the others were solved by an oral response only. It was concluded that beginning kindergarteners are able to solve problems involving beginning number concepts and that the main strategy for solving these problems is one-by-one counting.

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