Document Type



Mathematics, Science & Technology Education Centre, Edith Cowan University

Place of Publication

Perth, Western Australia


Faculty of Education


Mathematics, Science & Technology Education Centre


Bana, J., & Korbosky, R. (1995). Children's knowledge and understanding of basic number facts. Perth, Australia: Mathematics, Science & Technology Education Centre, Edith Cowan University.


Automatic recall of all the basic number facts is a major objective in primary school mathematics. This is an objective that is not easily attained. Many students have problems acquiring the skills which lead to correct and immediate responses (automatic recall) for all the basic number facts. Knowledge of the basic number facts is essential for undertaking all computation efficiently. These basic facts are defined as 0 + 0 to 9 + 9 for addition and their subtractive opposites; and 0 x 0 to 9 x 9 for multiplication and their inverses in division. This is a total of 390 facts which must be learned, but the scope of the task can be reduced by an understanding of basic properties such as commutativity, and the properties of zero and one.

Context of the Study

It is often asserted by teachers, parents and the community generally that children "do not know their number combinations well enough". That is, that they do not have sufficient knowledge of, and automatic recall of the basic number facts. However, the evidence is largely anecdotal with little in the way of comprehensive supporting data. It seemed that an extensive study should be undertaken to check this and, at the same time, try to determine some of the factors that affect automatic response, whether children can apply their skill of automatic response to real life situations, and whether or not they understand these basic number facts. This study should provide valuable information for education systems, for both pre- and post-service mathematics education programs, and for teachers implementing mathematics curricula.· It should also establish some useful benchmarks for researchers.