Literacy and numeracy

Dr Menno van der Schoot

The theme of Literacy and numeracy can be broken down into three sub-themes:

Reading comprehension
Increasing numbers of primary school pupils are achieving substandard scores for reading comprehension. They are also getting less pleasure from reading. These are worrying developments because, in today´s information society, good reading comprehension skills are essential for success, both at school and in later life. One contributory factor may be a lack of focus on ‘perceptual reading’, which involves reading as a sensory experience.
This line involves both pure and applied research. The focus here is very much on reading strategies that are essential to the development of a personified situation model, such as mental simulation, making inferences, and monitoring comprehension.

Solving arithmetic word problems
In this theme, we investigate the problems that primary school children encounter when solving arithmetic word problems. This involves focusing both on the relevant characteristics of children and on the characteristics of arithmetic word problems. How much do individual pupils differ in terms of their ability to form an adequate mental representation of the problem situation hidden in the arithmetic word problem? Also, which linguistic characteristics of the arithmetic word problem itself influence these and other problem-solving processes?
Development of numeracy
Numeracy skills are important for an individual’s cognitive development and for success, both at school and in later life. Within this line, we examine the development of children’s numeracy skills from a cognitive perspective. The goal is to understand the cognitive processes that underlie numeracy.