Preschool children’s understanding of number: Connecting number symbols and quantity information PhD

Mathematics Education Centre
Entry requirements:
3 years
not available
Reference number:
Start date:
01 October 2018
Is funding available?
UK/EU fees:
International fees:
Application deadline:
16 February 2018



of research classed as 'internationally recognised'

REF 2014


in the UK for Mathematics

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Project detail

For many children, the development of symbolic number knowledge (i.e. knowledge of number words and Arabic numerals) can be a long and difficult process. Learning to recite the number sequence by rote may happen quite early, but it can take years to grasp the meanings of the words in the count list. Importantly, children need to make connections between number symbols (e.g. “three” and “3”) and underlying quantity information (e.g. •••).

Researchers in numerical cognition have shown that the fluency with which children can map between number symbols and quantities is positively associated with their mathematical skills. But it is not yet clear whether this association is a causal one. If we train children to get better at making the connections between number words, digits and quantities, does their mapping ability improve? And does this lead to improvements in arithmetic skills? The goal of this project is to design and develop an experimental intervention to test the causal relations between mapping ability and mathematical skills in preschool aged children.

The project would be well-suited to a candidate with interest and experience in cognitive and developmental psychology.


Primary supervisor: Dr Sophie Batchelor

Secondary supervisor: Dr Camilla Gilmore

Find out more

For further project details email Dr Sophie Batchelor or register your interest and ask us a question.

General information about the Mathematics Education Centre can be found online.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 degree or equivalent in Psychology. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in cognitive psychology or developmental psychology would be an advantage.

Applicants must meet the minimum English Language requirements, details available on the website.

Fees and funding


Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Special arrangements are made for payments by part-time students.

The 3-year studentship provides a tax-free stipend of £14,553 (2017 rate) per annum (in line with the standard research council rates) for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate.  International (non-EU) students may apply however the total value of the studentship will be used towards the cost of the International tuition fee in the first instance.

How to apply

All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select ‘Mathematics’.

Please quote reference number: SB/MEC/2018

Application details

Reference number:  SB/MEC/2018
Start date: 01 October 2018
Application deadline: 16 February 2018