The Role of Learning the Japanese Kuku Multiplication Chant in Simple Arithmetic Operations

ABSTRACT

In Japanese primary schools, children are required to learn the kuku (“nine nines”) method of multiplication during the formal course of mathematics. When learning, they are taught to recite it as though reciting a Chinese poem or chanting. In the present study, we undertook an experiment designed to examine the role of learing the Japanese kuku multiplication chant in arithmetic operations by requiring the participants to solve the three types of simple arithmetic problems. In each problem presentation, an equation of simple addition (e.g., 3 (three) added to 4 (four) makes 7 (seven)), of simple multiplication (e.g., 3 (three) multiplied by 4 (four) is 12 (twelve)), or of kuku (e.g., 3 (three) 4 (fours) 12 (twelve)) was auditorily presented with either the addend or augend in the addition, or the multiplicand or multiplier in the multiplication or kuku always being acoustically masked by peep sounds so that the participants did not hear the numbers masked. Comparison of the latency to their answer across the three types of problems revealed that as a consequence of learning kuku, a learner could produce the answers for the arithmetic multiplication problems as well as the answers for the kuku problems relatively more easily as compared to the arithmetic addition problems. Implications of the results are argued with reference to the cognitive load theory, a theory of learning and education which underwent substantial development and expansion during last two decades.

In Japanese primary schools, children are required to learn the kuku (“nine nines”) method of multiplication during the formal course of mathematics. When learning, they are taught to recite it as though reciting a Chinese poem or chanting. In the present study, we undertook an experiment designed to examine the role of learing the Japanese kuku multiplication chant in arithmetic operations by requiring the participants to solve the three types of simple arithmetic problems. In each problem presentation, an equation of simple addition (e.g., 3 (three) added to 4 (four) makes 7 (seven)), of simple multiplication (e.g., 3 (three) multiplied by 4 (four) is 12 (twelve)), or of kuku (e.g., 3 (three) 4 (fours) 12 (twelve)) was auditorily presented with either the addend or augend in the addition, or the multiplicand or multiplier in the multiplication or kuku always being acoustically masked by peep sounds so that the participants did not hear the numbers masked. Comparison of the latency to their answer across the three types of problems revealed that as a consequence of learning kuku, a learner could produce the answers for the arithmetic multiplication problems as well as the answers for the kuku problems relatively more easily as compared to the arithmetic addition problems. Implications of the results are argued with reference to the cognitive load theory, a theory of learning and education which underwent substantial development and expansion during last two decades.

Cite this paper

nullIto, H. , Kubo-Kawai, N. and Masataka, N. (2011) The Role of Learning the Japanese Kuku Multiplication Chant in Simple Arithmetic Operations.*Creative Education*, **2**, 276-278. doi: 10.4236/ce.2011.23037.

nullIto, H. , Kubo-Kawai, N. and Masataka, N. (2011) The Role of Learning the Japanese Kuku Multiplication Chant in Simple Arithmetic Operations.

References

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[8] Heiling, K. (1995). The development of deaf school children. Hamburg: Signum.

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[10] Masataka, N., Ohnishi, T., Imabayashi, E., HIrakara, M., & Matsuda, H. (2007). Neural correlates for learning to read Roman numerals. Brain and Language, 100, 276-282. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2006.11.011

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[13] Paas, F., Renkl, A. & Sweller, J. (2003). Cognitive load theory and instructional design: recent developments. Educational Psychologist, 38, 1-4. doi:10.1207/S15326985EP3801_1

[14] Piazza, M., & Dehaene, S. (2005) From number neurons to mental arithmetic: The cognitive neuroscience of number sense. In M. S. Gazzaniga (Ed.), The Cognitive neurosciences III (pp. 865-875). Cambridge, MA: MIT press.

[15] Sousa, D. A. (2008) How the brain learns mathematics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

[16] Sweller, J. (1988). Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning. Cognitive Science, 12, 257-285. doi:10.1207/s15516709cog1202_4

[1] Baddeley, A. D. (2000). The episodic buffer: a new component of working memory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 417-423. doi:10.1016/S1364-6613(00)01538-2

[2] Bull, H., Marshark, M., & Baltto-Vallee, F. (2005) SNARC hunting: examining number representation in deaf students. Learning and Individual Differences, 15, 223-236. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2005.01.004

[3] Dehaene, S. (1997). Number sense. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[4] Deahaene, S., Dupoux, E. & Mehler, J. (1990). Is numerical comparison digital? Analogical and symbolic effects in two-digit number comparison. Journal of Experimental Psychology, Human Perception and Performance, 16, 626-641. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.16.3.626

[5] Dehaene, S., Piazza, M., Pinel, P. & Cohen, L. (2003). Three parietal circuits for number processing. Cognitive Neuroscience, 20, 487-506.

[6] Frosted, P. (1996). Mathematical achievement of hearing-impaired students in Norway. European Journal of Special Needs of Education, 11, 67-81.

[7] Gallistel, C. R., & Gelman, R. (1992). Preverbal and verbal counting and computation. Cognition, 44, 43-74. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(92)90050-R

[8] Heiling, K. (1995). The development of deaf school children. Hamburg: Signum.

[9] Lancy D. F (1983). Cross-cultural studies in cognition and arithmetic. New York, NY: Academic Press.

[10] Masataka, N., Ohnishi, T., Imabayashi, E., HIrakara, M., & Matsuda, H. (2007). Neural correlates for learning to read Roman numerals. Brain and Language, 100, 276-282. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2006.11.011

[11] McComb, K., Packer, C. & Pusey, A. (1994). Roaring and numerical assessment in contests between groups of female lions, Panthara leo. Animal Behaviour, 47, 379-387. doi:10.1006/anbe.1994.1052

[12] Nunes, T. & Moreno, C. (2002). An intervention program to promote deaf pupils’ achievement in mathematics. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 7, 120-133. doi:10.1093/deafed/7.2.120

[13] Paas, F., Renkl, A. & Sweller, J. (2003). Cognitive load theory and instructional design: recent developments. Educational Psychologist, 38, 1-4. doi:10.1207/S15326985EP3801_1

[14] Piazza, M., & Dehaene, S. (2005) From number neurons to mental arithmetic: The cognitive neuroscience of number sense. In M. S. Gazzaniga (Ed.), The Cognitive neurosciences III (pp. 865-875). Cambridge, MA: MIT press.

[15] Sousa, D. A. (2008) How the brain learns mathematics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

[16] Sweller, J. (1988). Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning. Cognitive Science, 12, 257-285. doi:10.1207/s15516709cog1202_4