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Early gender differences in arithmetic strategy proficiency

Laura Mitchell Garofoli, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Recent investigations of children's arithmetic strategy proficiency have revealed disparate results; some suggest that first grade boys are more accurate math-fact retrievers than are first grade girls, while others suggest first grade girls are the more accurate math-fact retrievers. The present study was designed to assess whether gender differences in math-fact retrieval do exist among kindergarten and first grade students and to assess the circumstances under which those differences might be observed. In two experiments, kindergarten and first grade children were asked to solve a series of simple addition and subtraction problems. Solution strategies were restricted and children were required to use either fact-retrieval or overt counting to solve the problems. Problems were presented in one of two modes, visual or auditory, via a laptop computer; half of the problems in each mode required the fact-retrieval strategy and half required the overt counting strategy. Performance was measured in terms of accuracy and solution time. No female advantages were observed on any of the tasks in either grade. When accuracy and time were collapsed to create composite proficiency scores, male advantages for the fact retrieval strategy and the visual mode of presentation were revealed in both grades.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Educational psychology|Mathematics education

Recommended Citation

Garofoli, Laura Mitchell, "Early gender differences in arithmetic strategy proficiency" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3096276.