Volume 31 (1989) Issue 4 Pages 161-168
This study was aimed at investigating effects of after-school abacus learning on paper-and-pencil calculation. Two speeded tests of basic calculation, “power tests” of multi-digit addition, subtraction, open sentence problems and word problems involving addition and subtraction, and comprehension of the “trade” principle between columns were given to 110 3rd-graders, 53 of whom were learning abacus outside the school. The abacus learners (a) were much quicker in basic calculation, (b) made more correct responses in multi-digit subtraction, and (c) more often wrote a mathematical expression and identified the missing number correctly. All these differences remained significant even when school grade in language entered analyses as a covariate. However, when the speed of basic calculation was partialled out, differences in other tests became insignificant. No difference was observed in comprehension of the trade principle. Abacus learning seemed to have influenced paper-and-pencil calculation not through conceputal understanding, but through proficiency in shared component skills.