Author: Boulton-Lewis, Gillian M., Halford, Graeme S.
Type of paper: Abstract refereed
A sample of 55 children in years 1, 2 and 3 in three suburban schools in low, medium and high socioeconomic areas of Brisbane was tested for knowledge of the structure of the counting sequence and for other aspects of number including place value. Each child was interviewed individually early and late in the school year. The teachers were interviewed and asked to describe their objectives and strategies for counting and other aspects of number. Analysis of the processing load of levels of knowledge of the counting structure and place value was undertaken using Halford's structure mapping theory of cognitive development. Children's responses for counting and place value were analysed and categorized. This paper is a description of earlier research in children's counting, an analysis of the processing demand of levels of counting and place value, a description of the children's counting competence, the relation between the latter and teachers strategies, the relation between counting and place value knowledge and implications for teaching. The focus of the research presented in this paper is to describe and explain levels of knowledge of the counting sequence on the basis of the processing load of the increasing complexity required at each level. Children's counting and teachers' strategies for teaching the counting sequence in the first three years of school are described and analysed. Because this research is part of a wider study, which aims to assess processing loads of representations and strategies used by teachers and children for a range of aspects of number in years 1 to 3, the relationship of levels of counting to performance with place value tasks is examined. Levels of counting knowledge as a predictor of performance on place value tasks and hence, by implication operations such as subtraction and addition, are considered.