## Abstract

Background: Evidence exists that there are two main underlying cognitive factors in mathematical difficulties: working memory and number sense. It is suggested that real math difficulties appear when both working memory and number sense are weak, here referred to as the double deficit (DD) hypothesis. Aims: The aim of this study was to test the DD hypothesis within a longitudinal time span of 2 years. Sample: A total of 670 children participated. The mean age was 4.96 years at the start of the study and 7.02 years at the end of the study. Methods: At the end of the first year of kindergarten, both visual–spatial working memory and number sense were measured by two different tasks. At the end of first grade, mathematical performance was measured with two tasks, one for math facts and one for math problems. Results: Multiple regressions revealed that both visual working memory and symbolic number sense are predictors of mathematical performance in first grade. Symbolic number sense appears to be the strongest predictor for both math areas (math facts and math problems). Non-symbolic number sense only predicts performance in math problems. Multivariate analyses of variance showed that a combination of visual working memory and number sense deficits (NSDs) leads to the lowest performance on mathematics. Conclusions: Our DD hypothesis was confirmed. Both visual working memory and symbolic number sense in kindergarten are related to mathematical performance 2 years later, and a combination of visual working memory and NSDs leads to low performance in mathematical performance.

Original language | English |
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Pages (from-to) | 429-445 |

Number of pages | 17 |

Journal | British Journal of Educational Psychology |

Volume | 86 |

Issue number | 3 |

DOIs | |

Publication status | Published - 1 Sept 2016 |

## Keywords

- (non-)symbolic number sense
- double deficit hypothesis
- first grade
- kindergarten
- mathematical achievement
- visual working memory