Infant and Child Development vol:19 issue:2 pages:175-186
To date, a number of studies have demonstrated the existence of mismatches between children's implicit and explicit knowledge at certain points in development that become manifest by their gestures and gaze orientation in different problem solving contexts. Stimulated by this research, we used eye movement measurement to investigate the development of basic knowledge about numerical magnitude in primary school children. Sixty-six children from grades one to three (i.e. 6-9 years) were presented with two parallel versions of a number line estimation task of which one was restricted to behavioural measures, whereas the other included the recording of eye movement data. The results of the eye movement experiment indicate a quantitative increase as well as a qualitative change in children's implicit knowledge about numerical magnitudes in this age group that precedes the overt, that is, behavioural, demonstration of explicit numerical knowledge. The finding that children's eye movements reveal substantially more about the presence of implicit precursors of later explicit knowledge in the numerical domain than classical approaches suggests further exploration of eye movement measurement as a potential early assessment tool of individual achievement levels in numerical processing. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.