Estimation of Importance: Relative Contributions of Symbolic and Non-Symbolic Number Systems to Exact and Approximate Calculation
Rylan J. Waring
Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada
Department of Psychology, King’s University College at Western University, London, Canada
The topic of how symbolic and non-symbolic number systems relate to exact calculation skill has received great discussion for a number of years now. However, little research has been done to examine how these systems relate to approximate calculation skill. To address this question, performance on symbolic and non-symbolic numeric ordering tasks was examined as predictors of Woodcock Johnson calculation (exact) and computation estimation (approximate) scores among university adults (N = 85, 61 female, Mean age = 21.3, range = 18-49 years). For Woodcock Johnson calculation scores, only the symbolic task uniquely predicted performance outcomes in a multiple regression. For the computational estimation task, only the non-symbolic task uniquely predicted performance outcomes. Symbolic system performance mediated the relation between non-symbolic system performance and exact calculation skill. Non-symbolic system performance mediated the relation between symbolic system performance and approximate calculation skill. These findings suggest that symbolic and non-symbolic number system acuity uniquely relate to exact and approximate calculation ability respectively.