Number representations drive number-line estimates

Lei Yuan, Richard Prather, Kelly S Mix, Linda B Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The number-line task has been extensively used to study the mental representation of numbers in children. However, studies suggest that proportional reasoning provides a better account of children's performance. Ninety 4- to 6-year-olds were given a number-line task with symbolic numbers, with clustered dot arrays that resembled a perceptual scaling task, or with spread-out dot arrays that involved numerical estimation. Children performed well with clustered dot arrays, but poorly with symbolic numbers and spread-out dot arrays. Performances with symbolic numbers and spread-out dot arrays were highly correlated and were related to counting skill; neither was true for clustered dot arrays. Overall, results provide evidence for the role of mental representation of numbers in the symbolic number-line task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e952-e967
Number of pages16
JournalChild Development
Issue number4
Early online date28 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

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