The relation between mathematics vocabulary and mathematics performance among fourth graders

Peng Peng, Xin Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The role of mathematics vocabulary in mathematics has received increasing attention in recent years. Most prior relevant research focused on students in preschool and early elementary grades in the United States and often considered mathematics vocabulary as a single construct in relation to one mathematics outcome. In the current study, we explored how different types of mathematics vocabulary emphasized in curriculum are related to different mathematics outcomes among students in 4th grade in China. Data were collected on mathematics vocabulary, general vocabulary, cognitive skills (IQ, working memory, and processing speed), and mathematics (calculation and word problems) among 237 students. Findings showed that after controlling for general vocabulary, IQ, working memory, and processing speed, mathematics vocabulary still made a unique contribution to mathematics performance, but the effects of mathematics vocabulary varied by different types of mathematics outcomes and mathematics vocabulary. That is, mathematics vocabulary made a unique contribution to word problems but not to calculation. Vocabulary related to measurement and geometry was more important to word problems than vocabulary related to numerical operations. Moreover, measurement and geometry vocabulary partially explained the relation between word problems and general vocabulary and IQ and fully explained the relation between word problems and working memory. These findings, taken together, suggest that mathematics vocabulary may not be a unitary construct, but consists of subtypes that relate to different mathematics outcomes among intermediate graders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Volume69
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Calculation
  • IQ
  • Mathematics vocabulary
  • Word problems
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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