ECR Projects

Explore past and current fundamental STEM education research projects across the three research areas that NSF's EDU Core Research (ECR) program funds, as well as across ECR funding types. Other search filters draw from both NSF's data and the ECR Hub's hand coding of award abstracts.

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Contextual sensitivity and early number concept development: Pathways to mathematics learning difficulties and disabilities among children with or without Turner syndrome

Effective Years: 2016-2021

Individuals with mathematics learning disabilities are at risk for lifelong underachievement in mathematics, which can affect broader education and career related outcomes. The early development of mathematics learning disabilities is poorly understood. The learning of number words is important but often difficult for young children and could be critically important. The expression "one bin of apples" conveys an image of many more apples than the expression "two apples." Yet, "one" is smaller than "two." For young children, particularly girls with Turner Syndrome and children at a high risk for math learning disabilities, the context surrounding number words may be missed, leading to confusion in both early math and higher order mathematics. In this research, the investigators will explore the development of "contextual sensitivity" toward number words. By examining both the way in which these contexts are understood as well as the cognitive skills needed to improve this understanding, the project will help clarify the developmental trajectory of early math learning disabilities.

The investigators will explore whether differences in language development can explain or predict math learning disabilities among young children, ages 4-7, who either have Turner Syndrome or are at high risk for math learning disabilities. The team will measure the construct of "contextual sensitivity" as it relates to the interpretation of number words. The team will investigate how contextual sensitivity and executive function impact number word interpretations. The investigators will assess students with Turner Syndrome as well as students from low income homes. Both of these populations share a high risk for math disabilities although they differ in their skills in the areas of executive function and vocabulary. The study will be able to provide insights on the interrelationship between different cognitive domains and math disabilities.

This project is supported by NSF's EHR Core Research (ECR) program. The ECR program emphasizes fundamental STEM education research that generates foundational knowledge in the field. Investments are made in critical areas that are essential, broad and enduring: STEM learning and STEM learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. The program supports the accumulation of robust evidence to inform efforts to understand, build theory to explain, and suggest intervention and innovations to address persistent challenges in STEM interest, education, learning and participation.