Overlap between reading and arithmetic skills: longitudinal contribution of domain-general skills and domain-specific knowledge

Overlap between reading and arithmetic skills: longitudinal contribution of domain-general skills and domain-specific knowledge

First Author: Cristina Rodríguez -- Universidad de La Laguna-Univ. Católica de la Santísima Concepción
Additional authors/chairs: 
Roberto A. Ferreira
Keywords: Reading Ability, Arithmetic fluency, cognitive processes, Longitudinal, Domain-General
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: There is growing evidence of the association between reading and mathematics performance. A constellation of domain-general and domain-specific factors seems to contribute to this relationship; however, their relative importance is debated. Very few studies have addressed this issue longitudinally and even less from early stages of development. In this study, we investigated the contribution of kindergarten domain-general and domain-specific abilities to the overlap of reading and arithmetic skills in second grade.

Method: We followed the trajectories of 258 children (51% girls) from kindergarten to second-grade. A range of early specific predictors of reading (letter-sound and letter-name, and phonological and orthographic awareness), arithmetic (symbolic and non-symbolic magnitude comparison and number-reading) and domain-general skills (working memory, attention, reasoning, visuospatial memory, and RAN) were measured at the end of kindergarten. The outcome variables (reading fluency, reading comprehension, additions and subtraction) were assessed at the end of second-grade. Dominance analyses were conducted to determine the relative importance of the contribution of children’s domain general and domain specific skills to both reading and mathematics outcomes.

Results: The results showed that number-reading knowledge in kindergarten explained the largest amount of unique variance for all reading and mathematics outcome variables measured in 2nd grade after accounting for the effects of all other variables in the model. Symbolic magnitude comparison and letter-name knowledge differentially predicted mathematics and reading outcomes. Neither of the predictors dominated all of the regressors completely.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the overlap between reading and arithmetic skills in second-grade could rely on children’s kindergarten ability to fluently retrieve associations between visual symbolic and phonological forms.