Using video observations to capture children's authentic mathematical play experiences.

Year: 2017

Author: Swinkels, Kathy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Research on young children's play and interactions now regularly includes the use of video cameras for data collection, together with traditional observational field notes and photographs (Borko, Jacobs, Eiteljorg, & Pittman, 2008; Flewitt, 2006; MacLure, Holmes, MacRae, & Jones, 2010).
The data collection period for my PhD study included spending two weeks at three early childhood settings. At each setting, I used video cameras and observations to collect data on the natural mathematical play of the children. Jewitt (2011) explains that "video can provide a fine-grained multimodal record of an event detailing gaze, expression, body posture, gesture and so on, in which talk is kept in context - a record that cannot be made available using any other technology" (p. 173).
A large advantage of using video was the ability to watch and re-watch the footage. This allowed time to identify the range of potential mathematical content the children were exploring. For example, when watching a video of a one-on-one art painting between a child and teacher, it was not until the second or third viewing that a child's symbolic mathematics was observed as they used their fingers to count the number of spots on a giraffe.
This video data was analysed using the Nvivo software to create gisted transcriptions. Gisted transcriptions are a living or dynamic document that was updated throughout the analysis stage. The ability to watch the videos multiple times supported the inclusion of the fieldnotes and analysis notes directly into the transcription. They also provided the opportunity to include the contextual information within the transcription, allowing for a greater depth of descriptive information.