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Examining the role of children’s responsiveness when studying the impact of parents’ use of math elicitations on children’s math performance

Convery, Caitlin (2021) Examining the role of children’s responsiveness when studying the impact of parents’ use of math elicitations on children’s math performance. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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When children start kindergarten, there are already individual differences in math ability (Aubrey, 1997; Sarama & Clements, 2009). These early differences have long-term effects that predict math achievement throughout later schooling and impact future career outcomes, including income (Bodovski & Farkas, 2007). One significant predictor of children’s math performance is the quantity of parents’ math input with their child. Previous studies have shown that the more parents talk about or engage in math-related activities with their children, the better their child tends to perform in math (Levine et al., 2010; Skwarchuk, 2009). These studies have focused on parents’ overall math talk but have not looked at specific types of math talk. Here, I examine the frequency of parental use of math-related elicitations (questions and commands intended to evoke a response using math concepts) during a free play interaction with their preschool-aged child (140 parent-child dyads; child M age=3.91 years). In addition to looking at this parent factor, I also consider the child’s level of math responsiveness (i.e., proportion of responses to parent math elicitations relevant to the math concept) and investigate whether more responsive children benefit more from parent math elicitations than less responsive children. I found that children who more frequently responded to their parents’ math elicitations with relevant responses performed significantly better on the TEMA-3 (Baroody & Ginsburg, 2003),  = .30, p <.001, even when controlling for the overall frequency of relevant responses to parents’ non-math elicitations. Contrary to my hypotheses, parental math elicitations did not have a significant effect on children’s math achievement, nor did I find that children’s responsiveness moderated this association. These findings suggest that children’s own behavioral factors may play as important, if perhaps not more important, of a role as the social parental factors in math development. Parental math elicitations were not a significant predictor, which suggests that the quantity of math input may not matter as much as how the child responds to it. Thus, future work could examine interventions to increase children’s attention and responsiveness to their parents, in the hopes of helping them benefit more from math input.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Convery, Caitlincac300@pitt.eduCAC300
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorLibertus,
Committee MemberKibbe,
Committee MemberSilver,
Committee MemberElliott,
Committee MemberGanger,
Date: 23 April 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 26 March 2021
Approval Date: 23 April 2021
Submission Date: 20 April 2021
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 36
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: developmental psychology, learning, early math ability, parent math input, elicitations, responsiveness
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2021 13:36
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2023 05:15


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