Review of Relevant Literature on Number Talks

Subject: 🎓 Education
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 948
Topics: Teaching Philosophy, Mathematics, 🔥 Motivation
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Little research has been performed on the effects of number talks and mental math on students’ number sense skills. Most researchers have focused on how number talks and mental math help in building reasoning. For example, Sherry Parrish (2010) conducted a study on how number talks help in building numerical reasoning. Parrish (2010) argues that acceptance of ideas and answers remain the first step in building an effective classroom environment. Class discussions help in justification of ideas and development of strategies that contribute to the growth of number sense skills. Students can apply and investigate mathematical relationships, clarify thinking and choose appropriate approaches for specific problems. Parrish (2010) also outlines that educators help students see relationships and make connects. Mental math helps students build efficiency, and focus on number relationships. According to Parrish (2010), successful number talks assist students in communicating mathematically, proving and reasoning solutions, and develop computation strategies

Mindy (2003) conducted research on daily number talks and the development of computational strategies in Fourth Graders. He aimed at determining whether daily number talks would increase the techniques used by the students to solve mental math accurately. A paired t-test showed a significant correlation between the number of strategies used by a child to solve a mental math and the number of questions scored accurately. However, the revealed that there was no correlation between the number of strategies known to students and the number of math problems that they would solve correctly on a timed test. Mindy (2003), therefore, concluded that daily number talks strengthened student’s number sense skills and reduced the time for solving mental month.

Jordan, Glutting, and Ramineni (2010) conducted a study on the importance of number sense to mathematics achievement in first and third grades. The symbolic number sense of a child was examined using number knowledge, arithmetic operations, and competencies related to counting at the beginning of the first grade. They also assessed conventional mathematics achievement at the end first and fourth grade. The research revealed that number sense made a significant contribution to mathematics achievements at both first and third grades. More so, they concluded that number sense is strongly correlated to the student’s ability to solve mathematics problems from different contexts. Lastly, they found that number sense is an essential skill that significantly contributes to the development of mathematics interventions and assessments (Jordan, Glutting & Ramineni, 2010). 

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Johnson and Amanda (2014) investigated the impact of regular number talks and informal conversations on the mental mathematics abilities of the students. They conducted the study in two fourth grade classrooms for two months. They performed data using questionnaires, surveys on student’s attitudes towards mathematics, student interviews, and teacher reflective journey. The analysis revealed that consistent participation in number talks significantly improved mental mathematics abilities of students. More so, participating in regular number talks helped students developed problem-solving strategies. According to Johnson and Amanda (2014), daily number talks should be adopted as an essential component of elementary mathematics program since it helps them solve mental math and justify their reasoning.

Monteiro, Peixoto, and Mata (2012) researched the effects of motivational, and social support factors on student’s attitudes towards mathematics. That is, they aimed at determining how to support, social and motivational factors impact student’s engagement in mathematics. The three researchers found that attitude has a significant influence on involvement in mathematics. Moreover, the researchers revealed that student’s attitude towards math was not affected by gender. |However, girls’ attitude towards mathematics tends to decrease thus reducing engagement in mathematics. Although the authors did not focus on how the attitude affect the number sense skills, it is evident that motivational and support factors impacted on student’s engagement in mathematics (Monteiro, Peixoto & Mata, 2012). 

Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker (2015) wrote a book on “Making Number Talk Matters.” The authors also focused on “developing mathematical practices and deepening understanding, grade 4-10”. The books revolve the many decisions faced by teachers when practicing the daily number talks which are necessary for mathematics instructions. According to Humphreys and Parker (2015), number talks helps in diverging thinking and bring sense in mathematics classrooms. The book also educates on the use of Number Talks to solve the challenges of the Common Core. In fact, the book provides teachers with practical strategies that help students investigate connections and mathematics relations in grade 4-10. Last, the authors argue that Number Talks results in mathematically powerful classrooms that assist students in conjecturing, exploring and building ideas and strategies (Humphreys & Parker 2015).

Tosto et al. (2017) conducted a study on number sense and mathematics. The authors argue that there exist individual differences in number sense that correlate with mathematical performance and ability. The authors concluded that there exists a significant relationship between number sense and mathematical strength and performance. That is, good number sense skills improve students’ mathematical achievements. Stanislas Dehaene (2011) published a book on “The Number Sense: How the Mind Creates Mathematics.” In his book, Dehaene (2011) argues that number senses are the only way the brain understands the different concepts in the world. Mathematics is one of the areas that involve a game of numbers thus the application of number sense skills is necessary.

Mueller and Pligge (2012) researched on how “Math Talk” helps in building student’s engagement in mathematics. They defined “Math Talks” as a daily routine/ritual that assists in developing conceptual understanding of numbers, mathematics, and operations. Math Talks or Number Talks help in reviewing and practicing concepts and producers. Moreover, they help in exploring mathematical connections and relationships. Sasanguie et al. (2013) conducted a study on number sense, space mappings and number processing. The authors concluded learning experiences using symbols is essential for future math abilities.

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  1. Dehaene, S. (2011). The number sense: How the mind creates mathematics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, USA.
  2. Humphreys, C., & Parker, R. E. (2015). Making number talks matter: Developing mathematical practices and deepening understanding, grades 4-10. Portland, Me: Stenhouse Publ.
  3. Johnson, A., & Partlo, A. (2014). The Impact of Regular Number Talks on Mental Math Computation Abilities. Masters of Arts in Education Action Research, 101(01).
  4. Jordan, N. C., Glutting, J., & Ramineni, C. (2010, April 01). The Importance of Number Sense to Mathematics Achievement in First and Third Grades. Retrieved November 01, 2017, from
  5. Mata, M. D., Monteiro, V., & Peixoto, F. (2012, October 04). Attitudes towards Mathematics: Effects of Individual, Motivational, and Social Support Factors. Retrieved November 01, 2017, from
  6. Mueller, N., & Pligge, M. (2012). MATH TALK: A WAY TO BUILD STUDENT’S ENGAGEMENT. Retrieved from
  7. O’Nan, M. (2013, June 30). Daily Number Talks and the Development of Computational Strategies in Fourth Graders. Retrieved November 01, 2017, from
  8. Parrish, S. (2010). Number talks: Helping children build mental math and computation strategies, grades K-5. Math Solutions.
  9. Sasanguie, D., & Reynvoet, B. (2013). Approximate number sense, symbolic number processing, or number–space mappings: What underlies mathematics achievement? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114(3). Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  10. Tosto, M. G., Petrill, S. A., Malykh, S., Malki, K., Haworth, C. M. A., Mazzocco, M. M. M., . . . Kovas, Y. (2017). Number sense and mathematics: Which, when and how? Developmental Psychology, 53(10), 1924-1939.
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