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From Intuitive Spatial Measurement to Understanding of Units

  • Eliza L. Congdon
  • Marina Vasilyeva
  • Kelly S. S. Mix
  • Susan C. Levine
Chapter
Part of the Research in Mathematics Education book series (RME)

Abstract

The current chapter outlines children’s transition from an intuitive understanding of spatial extent in infancy and toddlerhood to a more formal understanding of measurement units in school settings. In doing so, the chapter reveals that children’s early competence in intuitive spatial thinking does not translate directly into success with standardized measurement units without appropriate scaffolding and support. Findings from cognitive science and education research are integrated to identify (a) the nature of children’s difficulties with measurement units, (b) some effective instructional techniques involving spatial visualization, and (c) suggestions for how instruction could be further modified to address children’s specific conceptual difficulties with standardized measurement units. The chapter ends by suggesting that the most effective instruction may be that which directly harnesses the power of children’s early intuitive reasoning as those children navigate the transition into a deeper conceptual understanding of standardized units of measure.

Keywords

Mathematical development Spatial thinking Spatial visualization Units Linear units of measure Ruler measurement understanding Spatial extent Area Angle Misconceptions Manipulatives Gestures Children Infants Cognitive development Education Instruction Mathematics learning Procedural understanding of measurement Conceptual understanding of measurement 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eliza L. Congdon
    • 1
  • Marina Vasilyeva
    • 2
  • Kelly S. S. Mix
    • 3
  • Susan C. Levine
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBucknell UniversityLewisburgUSA
  2. 2.Lynch School of Education, Boston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of Human Development and Quantitative MethodologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Psychology, and Comparative Human Development and Committee on EducationUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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