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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Study of the relationship between perceptual training and arithmetic computation Gaskill, James Leslie


An analysis of the literature showed that many conclusions about the relationship between perceptual skills and reading were based on either the measurement of certain reading skills which did not depend upon the perceptual skills tested, or training programs which were not matched with the perceptual skills being studied. This, together with the fact that research in the field of mathematics has found that many computational mistakes are made because of mistaken symbols, led the author to define a perceptual skill, the search mechanism, which was specifically determined by the method of working algorithms. A pilot study was performed to establish testing procedures. The results of this study indicated that there was a relationship between the search mechanism and arithmetic computation. The experiment consisted of a treatment group and a control.group. All subjects were given pre- and post-tests on each of four measures; the search mechanism, vertical span, horizontal span and arithmetic computation. The treatment group was given training in the search mechanism. The following statistical results were established: there was a significant difference between the control and experimental groups on a measure of change of search ability; there were no significant differences between the control and experimental groups on measures of vertical span, horizontal span and arithmetic computation. Using the post-test on the control group only, it was established that: search ability was correlated with vertical span; search ability was not correlated with horizontal span; vertical span was correlated with horizontal span; search mechanism, with the effects of vertical span and horizontal span removed, was correlated with arithmetic computation. This latter finding means that the variance in arithmetic scores accounted for by search mechanism, vertical span, and horizontal span was significantly different from that accounted for by vertical span and horizontal span alone. Two possible conclusions were suggested. The first was that the training period was too short for transfer from the search skill to algorithmic performance to take place. The second was that the increase in the search procedure test could be explained by vertical span being used with increasing efficiency within the new context of search procedure testing. Because a low correlation was obtained between arithmetic and vertical span the achieved stability of the arithmetic scores was to be expected.

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