Individual Differences in Children’s Early Strategy Behavior in Arithmetic Tasks

Sven Lindberg, Janosch Linkersdörfer, Martin Lehmann, Marcus Hasselhorn, Jan Lonnemann


As demonstrated by the Overlapping Waves Model (Siegler, 1996), children’s strategy use in arithmetic tasks is variable, adaptive, and changes gradually with age and experience. In this study, first grade elementary school children (n = 73), who scored high, middle, or low in a standardized scholastic mathematic achievement test, were confronted with different arithmetic tasks (simple addition, e.g., 3 + 2, simple subtraction, e.g., 7 – 2, and more advanced addition, e.g., 7 + 9) to evoke different calculation strategies. Video analysis and children’s self-report were used to identify individual strategy behavior. In accordance with the Overlapping Waves Model, children in all achievement groups showed variable and multiple strategy usage and adapted their behavior to the tasks of the different categories. We demonstrated that not only low achievers differed from normal achievers but also that high achievers exhibited a unique pattern of strategy behavior in early mathematics.

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Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology   ISSN 1927-0526 (Print)   ISSN 1927-0534 (Online)

Copyright © Canadian Center of Science and Education

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