Chapter

Relative Quantity

Kelly S. Mix, Janellen Huttenlocher and Susan Cohen Levine

in Quantitative Development in Infancy and Early Childhood

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195123005
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199893959 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195123005.003.0006
Relative Quantity

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Adults can use measurement units to estimate continuous amounts (e.g. one cup of flour), but how do infants and young children do so without access to these cultural tools? This chapter argues that they estimate amounts relative to other amounts, essentially using the ratio to represent and compare quantities. For example, to estimate the amount of milk in a glass, children could estimate the ratio of full glass to empty glass. Various studies demonstrating early sensitivity to these ratios are reviewed, outlining the relative difficulty of tasks depending on variables such as continuous vs. discrete quantity, which reference quantity is held constant, and so forth. Research on emergent understanding of fractions and measurement is also considered.

Keywords: early childhood; quantification; relative quantity; ratios; fractions; measurement

Chapter.  8058 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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