Preschool children's use of counting to compare two sets in cardinal situations
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This study investigated: 1) The effect of reminding or training on preschoolers' use of counting to compare two sets, and 2) the effect of test conditions on preschoolers' use of counting to compare two sets. Twelve comparison tasks (with sets: 4:5, 5:6, 6:7, and 8:9) were used to test 227 Chinese 3- and 4-year-olds' (ages ranged from 3:9 to 4: 11) use of counting to compare sets under different experimental conditions. Three test conditions, Control, Reminding of Counting, and Brief Training, were provided in Experiment 1. The Traditional and the Natural test condition were provided in Experiment 2. The intervention did not have an effect on younger children's (mean: 3:9) use of counting to compare sets. At the mean age of 4:4, the children were more likely to use counting to compare sets in the two intervention groups than were the children in the Control group. Children in the Natural test condition were more likely to use counting to compare sets than were the children in the Traditional test condition. A high percentage of Chinese 4-year-olds might already understand (or nearly) how to use counting to compare sets. Many 4-year-olds were reluctant to use counting if no intervention prompted it, because 1) they did not know that counting was a better strategy than visual comparison, or because 2) preschool children's use of counting to compare sets was easily affected by contextual factors in a test condition. Children were more likely to use counting to compare sets in a test condition in which familiar problem situations and concrete objects were used. Preschool children's use of counting to compare sets was found to be closely related to their counting performance, especially to their performance on the "Give a Number" task.
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