Published on 11 Oct 2021

Dr Pierina Cheung Publishes a Paper and Presents at Two Conferences

Dr Pierina Cheung, Research Scientist at the Centre for Research in Child Development, has published a paper and presented at two conferences based on research findings from her project on “Improving Early Number Word Learning: Examining the Role of Input”.  

The paper, titled “Cracking the code of place value: The relationship between place and value takes years to master”, was published in the journal of Developmental Psychology, and co-authored by Prof Daniel Ansari from Western University. It examines children’s understanding of multidigits and the principle of position and base-10 rules to determine when and how children construct a relationship between position and value. NIE staff/students can access the journal for free through the LIBRIS portal at

Dr Cheung also presented three papers at two conferences between July and August 2021. The first two papers, “Bilingual number acquisition” presented at the Cognitive Science Society Conference, and “The development of number word learning in bilingual children: Evidence from Singapore” presented at biennial European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) Conference, detailed a project study to determine if bilingual children’s number knowledge transfer from primary language to secondary language.

The presentations covered two sets of children aged 3.5 to 5 for the first presentation, and 2 to 4 for the second, and findings suggest that children seem to transfer knowledge from one language to another for small numbers (e.g., one, two, three, four), but lack of transfer for larger numbers that are compositional (or roughly, numbers > 10). Additionally, Children at age 2 can recite numbers sequentially, but have not yet attached meaning to it.

The third presentation also took place at the EARLI conference. Titled “When do children understand that number words refer to exact cardinalities?”, Dr Cheung discussed how robust children’s knowledge is of numbers, comparing those who have learned the counting principles vs. those who haven’t. The study, conducted with children aged 3 to 5, and found that children who have learned the counting principles don’t always grasp the logic of number, implying that children learn the counting procedures but not the conceptual understanding, and that further study is needed to determine the numerical knowledge that children have after they have learned counting principles.