Third graders’ verbal reports of multiplication strategy use: How valid are they?

Helen Reed, Claire Stevenson, Marije Broens-Paffen, Paul A. Kirschner, Jelle Jolles

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    This study investigates whether children’s verbal reports accurately represent their thinking processes when solving simple multiplication problems. A total of 106 third graders in Dutch mainstream primary schools solved simple multiplication problems and retrospectively reported how they had done this. The degree to which verbal reports predict children’s problem-solving performance in ways that correspond to known patterns of response latency, accuracy, errors and strategy choice was assessed. The analyses took account of relevant problem characteristics and child cognitive characteristics (i.e., math ability, verbal ability, phonological decoding speed) known to affect the relation between strategy use and multiplication performance. The verbal reports were largely consistent with known patterns, supporting the use of verbal reports in assessing multiplication strategy use. Moreover, verbal reports provide valuable information that can alert teachers and educational researchers to specific issues that students face when solving simple multiplication problems. Considerations for soliciting reliable verbal reports are suggested.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-117
    Number of pages11
    JournalLearning and Individual Differences
    Early online date17 Nov 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015


    • Verbal reports
    • Multiplication strategies
    • Multiplication performance
    • Problem characteristics
    • Cognitive characteristics


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