The number sense: a comparison between normal and adapted curriculum pupils in terms of subitization ability, the distance and magnitude effects

Petru-Marian Călinescu


DOI: 10.47743/psya-2022-02

Number sense refers to the ability to easily understand, approximate and manipulate numerical quantities. In solving numerical problems, children use exact, respectively approximate calculation strategies. Unfortunately, some persons encounter difficulties in acquiring basic mathematical skills, and this condition represent a specific learning disability called developmental discalculia. The aim of the present study was to compare normal and adapted curriculum pupils in terms of subitization ability and efectiveness of number sense. The presence of magnitude and distance effects was tested in four distinct formats: 3D objects, 2D figures, verbal and visual Arabic numerical representation. The sample consisted of 111 normal and adapted curriculum pupils. Both number of errors and reaction times were registered. Adapted curriculum pupils registered more erroneous answers in the 2D, verbal, and arabic tasks and bigger reaction times in the 3D, tasks with Arabic or verbal numerals. Both normal and adapted curriculum pupils registered the best performances in the visual Arabic numerical representation task. Contrary to the expectations, the magnitude effect was not outlined in terms of reaction times, perhaps due to the calculation strategies which pupils adopted in different tasks.

Number sense, Specific learning disability with impairment in mathematics, Subitization, Distance effect, Magnitude effect

Petru-Marian Călinescu – Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi, Romania, E-mail:

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