Why Johnny still can't add: Predictors of university students' performance on an elementary arithmetic test

Lionel G. Standing1
1Bishop’s University, Canada
Cite this article:  Standing, L. (2006). Why Johnny still can't add: Predictors of university students' performance on an elementary arithmetic test. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 34, 151-160.

Volume 34 Issue 2 | e1466 | Published: March 2006 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2006.34.2.151

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Undergraduates (N = 75) at a liberal arts college were given the D'Amore Test (DT; Hume, 1932), a measure of elementary arithmetic skills which uses 10 simple items taken directly from a third-grade curriculum of 1932. Unlimited time and written rough work were allowed. Exactly two-thirds of the subjects failed the DT by achieving a score below 10. On average, 8.71 items were answered correctly (range 5-10), and 63% of subjects scored between 5 and 8 inclusive. DT scores decreased progressively with the number of years the subject had spent at university, and varied by area of study, with Business Administration students scoring the lowest. Performance was correlated positively with self-rated math ability and self-predicted DT score, and negatively with math anxiety. It was not associated with gender, age, grades,or home province; nor with liking for math, science, computers or high-school math teaching. The hardest test item, with a 32% error rate, was to evaluate 92 × 34.
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