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The primary focus of our study is to explore the relationship between a child’s early mathematics skills and related cognitive skills and the representational status of the tools used to aid learning in these areas. By focusing on children’s ability to perform based on the nature of the tools given to them, the findings of this study will hopefully lead to a better understanding of the types of objects or learning aids that are most conducive to student learning in early childhood classrooms. Our work is guided heavily by the theory of graded representations, which offers that higher object saliency leads to a higher active representation of objects, and therefore takes away from a child’s executive function in keeping focus on a task (Munakata & Yerys, 2006). General mathematics skills will be tested both through the Approximate Number System—which looks at a child’s ability to distinguish larger numbers without counting—and the TEMA-3—which is a standardized test for purchase that assesses both formal and informal mathematics skills. Predictors of mathematics skills (i.e., executive functioning skills including working memory, inhibitory control, and attention shifting skills) will be assessed through two tasks. Children will be randomly assigned to different versions of these mathematics and executive functioning skills tasks that vary with respect to object saliency and object familiarity.

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Mary Wagner Fuhs

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This poster reflects research conducted as part of course project designed to give students experience in the research process.