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An analysis of number conservation ability Schreck, Cynthia Ann Nagel

Abstract

Seven hypotheses were derived from Piaget's (a) task analysis of the ordinal correspondence and conservation tasks; (b) description of the development from preoperation to concrete operational thinking; and (c) ideas about the necessary and sufficient conditions for this transition. An attempt was also made to solve the methodological problems of (a) how to determine whether a child is a real conserver or a pseudo-conserver; (b) how to determine whether the child understands the terms in a Piagetian task; and (c) variation in performance due to stimulus variables. Twenty-eight four-year-old Ss, 36 kindergarten Ss, and 28 grade one Ss were each given the following seven tests, in addition to a test of counting ability: (1) a test of their ability to match the number of objects in a standard row; (2) a conservation of number test; (3) a test of their ability to anticipate and remember the results of a transformation in a row of objects; (4) a test of the criteria on which they made judgments of quantity; (5) a test of their ability to build two corresponding series of objects; (6) a test of their ability to find ordinal correspondences; and (7) a test of their ability to mentally transform a stimulus. Five of the hypotheses were confirmed and one hypothesis was partially confirmed. The methodological problems were partially solved. A new approach to the development of number conservation ability was suggested by the data.

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