The Role of Numerical and Non-Numerical Ordering Abilities in Mathematics and Reading in Middle Childhood

Kinga Morsanyi*, Bianca van Bers, Patrick A. O'Connor, Teresa McCormack

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study investigated whether different types of ordering skills were related to mathematics achievement in children (n = 100) in middle childhood, after the effects of age, socio-economic status, IQ, and processing speed were taken into account. The relations between ordering skills and magnitude processing were also investigated, as well as the possibility that some of the shared variance between math and reading is explained by ordering abilities. The ordering tasks included the ordering of familiar numerical and non-numerical sequences, a parental report of children’s everyday ordering skills, and an order working memory task. Three magnitude processing tasks (symbolic and non-symbolic comparison and number line estimation), were also administered, as well as measures of inhibition and spatial working memory. From this set of measures, number ordering, order working memory and number line estimation emerged as the most important predictors of mathematics skills. We found that number ordering mediated the effect of both symbolic and non-symbolic comparison skills on mathematics, further confirming that this task captures some essential skills related to mathematics. Additionally, order working memory mediated the effect of both number comparison and reading skills on math. Finally, whereas non-symbolic comparison and number line estimation are considered important indicators of magnitude processing skills, there was no relationship between these abilities, but there was a correlation between each of these abilities and reading skills, with number line estimation also mediating the effect of reading skills on math. These novel findings could contribute to a better understanding of the basic processes underlying math ability, and why math and reading are strongly related in typical populations and in children with learning difficulties.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101895
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Early online date07 Jul 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 07 Jul 2020


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