Challenge 2

Previous research has investigated which basic skills are significant predictors of current and future mathematics achievement as children enter and progress through school. However, we lack evidence regarding which of these skills are causal predictors of later mathematics achievement.

Causal evidence is essential to inform theory of mathematical development and for the development of effective classroom activities.

In this Challenge we are using existing evidence and conducting new studies to provide large-scale causal evidence of mechanisms of mathematical learning during the primary school years. 

This Challenge involves several workpackages: 

  • We have undertaken a major systematic review and meta-analysis synthesising research on domain-specific predictors of mathematical achievement in children aged 4-11 years. The aim of this is to identify the strongest predictors of mathematics outcomes to identify promising targets for intervention.  
  • We are conducting secondary data analyses of large-scale assessment data (Millennium Cohort Study and National Pupil Database, UK and LUCET, Luxembourg) to test theories about the structure of early mathematical skills and identify which skills are related to educational measures of mathematical achievement.  
  • Informed by the existing evidence we will then conduct focused randomized controlled trials to test hypotheses about the mathematical skills that are causally related to mathematics learning. Experiments will also investigate the influence of domain-general skills on mathematics performance.