'Number Sense' Predicts Math Success: Study

Ability to guess group size linked to algebra, calculus skill
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2008 6:09 AM CDT
New research suggests innate number sense is linked with success in higher mathematics.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The skill of estimating group size at a glance is directly linked to success in higher forms of math like algebra and calculus, reports the Washington Post. A new study found that students with better “number sense”—the ability to quickly and accurately guess numbers in a group—do better at language-based types of math as well.

Scientists were surprised to discover the link, which could help change math education to help students who struggle. "To me, it's mind-blowing," said one researcher. "While both abilities deal with numbers, they deal with numbers in two very different ways. Before this, all indications were they were separate systems." Number sense is a primitive cognitive skill, shared by humans and animals alike.