Let’s Talk Education Community Series

The Research Office at Western’s Faculty of Education is delighted to announce Dr. Daniel Ansari from the Brain and Mind Institute as this year’s Let’s Talk Education Community Series speaker! Dr. Ansari will tell us about “Building Blocks of Mathematical Competence: Evidence from Brain and Behaviour” on Thursday, May 17/18 from 7:00 – 8:00 pm at the Central branch of the London Public Library in Stevenson & Hunt Room B. Validated parking (2 hrs.) is available; please bring your Citi Plaza parking slip to the library circulation desk before the talk. This family-friendly seminar is intended for a general audience, and all members of Western and the broader London community are invited to attend.

RSVPs are not required, but appreciated to ensure adequate seating. If you would like to attend, please email jheidenh@uwo.ca or visit https://www.edu.uwo.ca/research/letstalkeduc.html to register.

We would appreciate your help in spreading the word about this event by forwarding the attached poster and talk details to your personal contacts.


Abstract

Children with strong early math skills are likely to continue doing well in math, and there is a relationship between low number and math skills in childhood and low socio-economic outcomes in adulthood. Knowing that, we need to better understand the fundamentals of how children learn number and math skills, and to use this information to improve math education. In this talk I will provide an overview of what insights have been gained from recent research in Developmental Psychology and Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience on the building blocks of mathematical competence. Specifically, I will discuss research that has shown that basic number processing (such as comparing which of two numbers is larger) is related to individual differences in children’s arithmetic achievement. For example, children with mathematical learning difficulties have been found to perform poorly on basic number processing tasks. In this talk I will review evidence for an association between basic number processing and arithmetic achievement in children with and without mathematical difficulties. By doing so, I will also discuss whether individual differences in mathematical abilities are driven by innate differences in a ‘number sense’ that humans share with other species or whether such variability is related to the acquisition of uniquely human, symbolic representations of number (e.g. Arabic numerals).  I will draw on evidence from both brain and behaviour and discuss the implications of this research for assessment, diagnosis and intervention. I will also review research on mathematics anxiety and gender differences in numerical and mathematical development.

 


Speaker Biography

Daniel Ansari, PhD, received his undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Sussex and his doctorate at the Institute of Child Health, University College of London. His thesis was on the numerical and mathematical abilities of children with Williams syndrome. During his doctoral studies, he became increasingly interested in neuroscience, receiving an MSc in neuroscience at the University of Oxford. In 2002, Dr. Ansari was an assistant professor of education at Dartmouth College in the Education Department. Since 2006, he has been a professor (and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience from 2007-2017) at Western, where he heads the Numerical Cognition Laboratory.

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