Mental computation performance in Australia, Japan and the United States

  • McIntosh A
  • Nohda N
  • Reys B
 et al. 
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The study was conducted to explore performance on a variety of mental computation tasks using two presentation formats (visual and oral). Students at four grade levels between grades 2 and 9 in three countries (Australia, Japan, United States) were given a group administered mental computation test consisting of two parts (oral presentation format, visual presentation format). The sample of nearly 2000 students represents 6 classes at each of four grade levels in each country. Results indicate a wide variation in performance within the sample of each country at each grade level. Differences in performance between countries are also apparent and may reflect variations in instructional focus on mental computation. In particular, Japanese students perform at a higher level at the early grades than do students in either of the other countries sampled. However, by grade 8 this difference narrows in the American sample, and vanishes for the Australian sample. Differences in performance related to presentation format were dramatic for particular items and non-existent for other items. The most consistent effect was found in the Japanese sample where the visual presentation format resulted in higher performance levels on most items. It is hypothesised that superior results on visually presented items are attributable to a greater reliance on use of the standard written algorithm, while superior results on orally presented items indicate a greater tendency to use invented mental algorithms. CR - Copyright © 1995 Springer

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  • Alistair McIntosh

  • Nobuhiko Nohda

  • Barbara J. Reys

  • Robert E. Reys

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