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The Routledge International Handbook of Dyscalculia and Mathematical Learning Difficulties

Steve Chinn, editor
Publication Date: 
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Routledge International Handbooks
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The Basic Library List Committee suggests that undergraduate mathematics libraries consider this book for acquisition.

[Reviewed by
Woong Lim
, on

The Routledge International Handbook of Dyscalculia and Mathematical Learning Difficulties (edited by Steve Chinn) presents an impressive collection of papers on mathematics learning difficulties and disabilities. The pool of authors is quite diverse, representing multiple countries, affiliated institutions, and various academic or corporate titles and ranks. The authors’ areas of expertise cover learning science, teacher education, language, cognitive psychology, mathematics instruction, curriculum design, neuroscience, educational psychology, assessment, special education, and educational technology.

Chinn approaches the issue in terms of the key factors and interrelationships between mathematics, the learner, and teacher. But the chapters seem to stand alone and are not arranged by common unifying themes, with the result that the book lacks cohesiveness and so may not be appropriate for an introductory course. Rather, it would be better utilized as a reference for those generally interested in learning difficulties and disabilities and who are exploring the issues specific to learning mathematics. In particular, Chinn raises sixteen essential questions (p.2) in understanding learning difficulties in mathematics and takes time to explain how the book addresses them in detail. Interested readers are encouraged to consider the following questions prior to reading the book.

  1. What is dyscalculia/mathematics learning disabilities?
  2. What are mathematics learning disabilities?
  3. What about co-occurrence with other difficulties and disabilities?
  4. What about early identification?
  5. What other factors might be involved, for example, low socioeconomic status, working memory, slow processing?
  6. What about heterogeneity?
  7. What are the key skills and concepts for learning mathematics?
  8. What are the key points in time for interventions?
  9. How should we teach mathematics?
  10. What is the role of metacognition?
  11. What is the role of language and vocabulary?
  12. Why are word problems difficult?
  13. Why are fractions and division universally perceived as ‘difficult’?
  14. Why is algebra hard?
  15. What is the role of anxiety, resilience, and the affective domain?
  16. How will IT help, now and in the future?

Take for example, the question “Why are word problems difficult?” At least two chapters of the book (8 and 27) are dedicated to answering this question. Readers presuming that teaching key vocabulary in word problems is the best solution to help students will be surprised by the range of elements associated with plausible reasons for students’ struggle with word problems.

On a personal note, I found Chapter 6 of the book — about the relationship between mathematics and logic in learning disabilities — to be quite stimulating intellectually. The authors pose the question “Is logical reasoning impaired in developmental dyscalculia, and is it enhanced in mathematically gifted children?” My initial belief was that students with strong logical reasoning skills will be better at math than those without. Intuitively I reasoned that mathematically gifted children would display stronger logical reasoning, but the chapter (especially its narrative in the discussion) challenged me to re-examine my preconceived notion of logical reasoning and the empirical measurements of related skills. Have you ever supposed that children struggling with mathematics would struggle in other subject areas? This book not only reviews the research that tries to answer such questions, but also discusses learning difficulties unique to mathematics and their relationships to disabilities across content areas.

I am convinced that most chapters of The Routledge International Handbook of Dyscalculia and Mathematical Learning Difficulties will serve as far more than a didactic summary of current knowledge in the field. Each chapter is sure to fascinate readers with its wide range of perspectives and leave behind important ideas applicable to the myriad issues in the learning and teaching of mathematics.

Woong Lim ( is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at University of New Mexico. His primary research interests include interrelations between language and mathematics and mathematics teacher education. 

The International Handbook on Dyscalculia and Mathematics Learning Difficulties: An overview Steve Chinn

1.How can cognitive developmental neuroscience constrain our understanding of developmental dyscalculia? Stephanie Bugden and Daniel Ansari

2.Number Difficulties in Young Children: Deficits in Core Number? Robert A. Reeve; Sarah Gray

3. Sets and digits: How are they processed by children with typical and atypical numerical cognition? Evidence from brain and behaviour Vivian Reigosa-Crespo; Danilka Castro

4. When and why numerosity processing is associated with developmental dyscalculia Xinlin Zhou; Dazhi Cheng

5. Predictive indicators for mathematical learning disabilities/dyscalculia in kindergarten children Annemie Desoete

6. The link between mathematics and logical reasoning: Implications for research and education Denes Szucs; Kinga Morsanyi

7.How specific is the specific disorder of arithmetic skills? Karin Landerl

8. Arithmetic Difficulties of Children with Hearing Impairment Gowramma, I.P.

9. Arithmetic Difficulties among Socially Disadvantaged Children and Children with Dyscalculia Ramaa S

10. Meeting the needs of the ‘bottom eighty per cent’ – Towards an inclusive mathematics curriculum in Uganda Tandi Clausen-May

11. Dyscalculia in Arabic speaking children: Assessment and intervention practices John Everatt; Abdessatar Mahfoudhi; Mowafak Al-Manabri; Gad Elbeheri

12. Mathematics Learning and Its Difficulties among Chinese Children in Hong Kong Connie Suk-Han Ho; Terry Tin-Yau Wong; Winnie Wai Lan Chan

13. The Acquisition of Mathematics Skills of Filipino Children with Learning Difficulties: Issues and Challenges Sherlynmay Hamak; Jai Astilla Hazelle; P. Preclaro

14. The Enigma of Dyscalculia Jane Emerson

15. Deep Diagnosis, Focused Instruction, and Expanded Math Horizons R B Ashlock

16. Preschool Children’s Quantitative Knowledge and Long-Term Risk for Functional Innumeracy David C. Geary

17. Learning Disabilities: Mathematics Characteristics and Instructional Exemplars Diane Pedrotty Bryant; Brian R. Bryant; Mikyung Shin; Kathleen Hughes Pfannenstiel;

18. Targeted interventions for children with difficulties in learning mathematics Ann Dowker; Peter Morris

19. Focused MLD intervention based on the classification of MLD subtypes Giannis N. Karagiannakis; G. N.; Cooreman, A.

20. Numbersense: A Window into Dyscalculia and other Mathematics Difficulties Mahesh C. Sharma

21. The Center for Improving Learning of Fractions: A Progress Report Robert Siegler; Lynn Fuchs; Nancy Jordan; Russell Gersten; Rob Ochsendorf

22. Lights and Shadows of Mental Arithmetic: Analysis of cognitive processes in typical and atypical development Sara Caviola; Daniela Lucangeli

23. Teacher Training : Solving the problem Judy Hornigold

24. Mathematics Anxiety, Working Memory, and Mathematical Performance: The Triple Task Effect and the Affective Drop in Performance Alex M. Moore; Amy J. McAuley; Gabriel A. Allred; Mark H. Ashcraft

25. Mathematical resilience: What is it and why is it important? Clare Lee; Sue Johnston-Wilder

26. Linguistic factors in the development of basic calculation Chris Donlan

27. Promoting Word Problem Solving Performance Amongst Students With Mathematics Difficulties: The Role of Strategy instruction that Primes the Problem Structure Asha K. Jitendra; Danielle N. Dupuis; Amy E. Lein

28. Mathematical Storyteller Kings and Queens: an alternative pedagogical choice to facilitate mathematical thinking and understand children’s mathematical capabilities Caroline McGrath

29. The Effects of Computer Technology on Primary School Students’ Mathematics Achievement: a Meta-analysis Egbert Harskamp

30. Representing, Acting, and Engaging: UDL and Mathematics Elizabeth Murray; Garron Hillaire; Mindy Johnson; Gabrielle Rappolt-Schlichtmann

31. Dyscalculia in Higher Education: systems, support and student strategies Clare Trott