Article: article from journal or magazin.
Strategies for written additions in adults
Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Studies about strategies used by adults to solve multi-digit written additions are very scarce. However, as advocated here, the specificity and characteristics of written calculations are of undeniable interest. The originality of our approach lies in part in the presentation of two-digit addition problems on a graphics tablet, which allowed us to precisely follow and analyse individualsâeuro? solving process. Not only classic solution times and accuracy measures were recorded but also initiation times and starting positions of the calculations. Our results show that adults largely prefer the fixed columnar strategy taught at school rather than more flexible mental strategies. Moreover, the columnar strategy is executed faster and as accurately as other strategies, which suggests that individualsâeuro? choice is usually well adapted. This result contradicts past educational intuitions that the use of rigid algorithms might be detrimental to performance. We also demonstrate that a minority of adults can modulate their strategy choice as a function of the characteristics of the problems. Tie problems and additions without carry were indeed solved less frequently through the columnar strategy than non-tie problems and additions with a carry. We conclude that the working memory demand of the arithmetic operation influences strategy selection in written problem-solving.
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