Number Sense: Rethinking Arithmetic Instruction for Students with Mathematical Disabilities

The authors describe the concept of number sense as an important component in the teaching of mathematics, and discuss relevant research from cognitive science, that can lead to more effective mathematical instructional practices.

Russell Gersten
David J. Chard
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Instructional Research Group & Southern Methodist University
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages
Product Type
What the experts say

This article describes a convincing and fascinating analogy between phonemic awareness for reading success and number sense for mathematics success. Although focused on children’s math acquisition, it seemed applicable to many adults learning math – as new learners or struggling (and sometimes failed) learners.

However, the article does refer heavily to the special education/LD/cognitive research. It was hard to understand the construct of number sense and the implications for math instruction: integrating number sense activities with math fact automaticity (like integrating phonemic awareness with sound/letter knowledge and fluency).

Although understanding the role of number sense is of great value to ABE and ESL teachers serving lower level math students, I think this article is too focused on reporting research from too many fields rather than clearly explaining relevant research and instructional implications for adult educators.

I think this would have tremendous value to ABE teachers that struggle trying to help students with numeracy problems. Problems in math are common with adult learners. Some learners have not been able to progress past the most basic math processes. Students preparing for the GED also experience math problems and may be lacking a passing score on only the math section of the GED Tests.

The article focuses on research done with children and points out the need for further research on mathematics instruction for adults.

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