Are books like number lines? Children spontaneously encode spatial-numeric relationships in a novel spatial estimation task

Clarissa A. Thompson, Bradley J. Morris, Pooja G. Sidney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Do children spontaneously represent spatial-numeric features of a task, even when it does not include printed numbers (Mix et al., 2016)? Sixty first grade students completed a novel spatial estimation task by seeking and finding pages in a 100-page book without printed page numbers. Children were shown pages 1 through 6 and 100, and then were asked, "Can you find page X?" Children's precision of estimates on the page finder task and a 0-100 number line estimation task was calculated with the Percent Absolute Error (PAE) formula (Siegler and Booth, 2004), in which lower PAE indicated more precise estimates. Children's numerical knowledge was further assessed with: (1) numeral identification (e.g., What number is this: 57?), (2) magnitude comparison (e.g., Which is larger: 54 or 57?), and (3) counting on (e.g., Start counting from 84 and count up 5 more). Children's accuracy on these tasks was correlated with their number line PAE. Children's number line estimation PAE predicted their page finder PAE, even after controlling for age and accuracy on the other numerical tasks. Children's estimates on the page finder and number line tasks appear to tap a general magnitude representation. However, the page finder task did not correlate with numeral identification and counting-on performance, likely because these tasks do not measure children's magnitude knowledge. Our results suggest that the novel page finder task is a useful measure of children's magnitude knowledge, and that books have similar spatial-numeric affordances as number lines and numeric board games.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2242
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberDEC
StatePublished - Dec 21 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Thompson, Morris and Sidney.


  • Lite
  • Magnitude knowledge
  • Number line estimation
  • Numeracy
  • Numerical representation
  • Spatial-numeric association

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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