Counting strategies from 5 years to adulthood: Adaptation to structural features

  • Valérie Camos


The aim of this study was twofold. First, it evaluated the developmental changes on frequency of use, efficiency, and choice of counting strategies from childhood to adulthood. Second, it determined the adaptation of the counting strategies to the structural features of the task. Participants in seven age groups ranging from 5-year-old to adulthood were asked to count dots in arrays varying on size, arrangement, density and size of the subgroups. The nature of the strategies used and their efficiency, i.e. speed, accuracy and rate of manual pointing, were recorded using the overt behavior technique. The developmental pattern of results for the four main strategies, counting by ones, by ns, addition and multiplication, was in line with Siegler’s overlapping waves model. The structural features affected the use of the strategies since 13 years, except for the multiplication strategy. Finally, intra- and inter-individual variability in strategy showed a monotonous increase with age. Implications for understanding the development of counting skill are discussed.

Key words

Adaptation Choice process Cognitive development Counting Strategy 


Le but de cette étude était, tout d’abord, d’évaluer les changements développementaux affectant la fréquence d’utilisation, l’efficacité et le choix des stratégies de comptage de 5 ans à l’âge adulte. Cette étude cherchait également à déterminer le degré d’adaptation de ces stratégies de comptage aux caractéristiques de la tâche. Les participants comptaient des collections de points variant en taille, disposition, densité et taille des sous-groupes. La nature des stratégies ainsi que leur efficacité (vitesse, précision et utilisation du pointage manuel) ont été recueillis à partir des performances faites à haute voix (overt-behavior technique). Le développement des quatre principales stratégies étaient compatibles avec le modèle de Siegler (1996). Les caractéristiques de la tâche affectaient l’utilisation des stratégies, mais seulement à partir de 13 ans. De plus, la variabilité intra- et interindividuelle augmentait continuellement avec l’âge. Ces résultats éclairent d’un jour nouveau l’évolution des activités de comptage.


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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valérie Camos
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire Cognition et Développement CNRSUniversité René Descartes-Paris VBoulogne-Billancourt CedexFrance

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