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The Psychology of Number, Developmental Disorders and Mathematics Anxiety - PSY00060H

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  • Department: Psychology
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Silke Goebel
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

Every day we deal with numbers (paying bills, making phone calls). Most of us do this easily. Even non-human animals use numerical information. However, many numerical abilities, in particular using digits and performing calculations, do typically not emerge without explicit teaching and some children and adults find mathematics very hard. Developmental dyscalculia, a specific disorder affecting the acquisition of arithmetic skills, has received far less attention than developmental dyslexia despite a similar prevalence in the population. Furthermore, mathematical skills are a stronger predictor of employment and income than literacy skills. In addition, a large number of children and adults, even with good mathematical skills, suffer from mathematics anxiety which artificially decreases their mathematical performance and affects their educational and career choices.

In this module we will explore this exciting and quickly growing area of research. The module will start with a reflection on why studying the Psychology of Number in general might be useful. In session 2, we will explore the numerical skills of non-human animals. In session 3, as a backdrop to later sessions, we will look at the typical development of numerical and mathematical skills in children. In seminar 4 interactions between representations of space and numerosity will be investigated. Seminar 5 will focus on developmental dyscalculia, difficulties in number processing and arithmetic. In Seminar 6 we will explore how number processing and arithmetic is affected in other developmental disorders such as ADHD, Dyslexia and Developmental Co-ordination Disorder. Seminar 7 will cover mathematics anxiety which is very common and increases in secondary school. In seminar 8 we will evaluate which existing intervention programmes help children/adults with mathematical difficulties. In seminar 9 we will take a cross-cultural perspective and evaluate the influence of culture and language on number processing and arithmetic.

This module of particular interest to any student who wants to learn more about developmental disorders, the development of numeracy and arithmetic skills, special education needs and/or is considering a career as an educational psychologist or teacher.

Module learning outcomes

  • Describe the typical development of number processing and arithmetic in childhood
  • Critically analyse empirical research relating to current issues in the field of Psychology of Number
  • Evaluate models of developmental dyscalculia and mathematics anxiety on the basis of empirical data using a wide range of methods
  • Reflect on how to improve the implementation and effectiveness of mathematical interventions
  • Explain the influence of culture and language on number processing and arithmetic

Module content

  • Why study the Psychology of Number?
  • How do non-human animals deal with quantities?
  • Development of number skills and arithmetic in childhood
  • Interactions between representations of space and numerosity
  • Mathematical Disorder/Developmental Dyscalculia
  • Number processing and arithmetic in other developmental disorders (Dyslexia, ADHD, Developmental Co-ordination Disorder)
  • Mathematics Anxiety Seminar
  • Interventions to increase mathematical performance
  • Cross-cultural differences in number processing and arithmetic Seminar
  • Revision


Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
The Psychology of Number, Developmental Disorders and Mathematics Anxiety
5 hours 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
The Psychology of Number, Developmental Disorders and Mathematics Anxiety
5 hours 100

Module feedback

The marks on all assessed work will be provided on e-vision.

Indicative reading

Gilmore, C., Göbel, S.M., & Inglis, M. (2018). An Introduction to Mathematical Cognition. (Textbook)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.